A LONG term campaign to increase monetary donations to the Highlands’ flagship theatre is under way after core funding has been slashed.
Letters have been sent to regulars of Eden Court Theatre in Inverness asking for a monthly donation or a one-off donation from £10 up to £100.
It comes after Highland Council dramatically reduced its funding to the theatre in the 2011/12 financial year by £85,000 – £35,000 of which was removed from the theatre’s education programme which delivers all its outreach workshops to schools. The funding is expected to be reduced again in the next financial year.
The letter reads: "We face an increasing gap in our funding. Last year the core grant we received from Highland Council was cut and it is very possible that it will be reduced even further next year.
"Without your help we may not be able to continue to offer the choice and quality of events which you would like to see so I am writing to ask if you would consider making a donation to Eden Court."
But Director of Eden Court Colin Marr was quick this week to dispel any rumours about Eden Court closing down or dramatic cuts in programming.
He told the Highland News Group asking supporters of Eden Court for donations is now a part of the long term plan for the theatre.
He said: "Everyone who has requested a brochure received the letter. I feel as an industry we are not very good at asking for money. People come to Eden Court and perhaps see it as quite big and a bit glitzy.
"But we are a charity, and year on year our core funding is being cut. Government is having to make savings, that’s passed onto local authorities and the argument for funding for theatres gets less when savings are having to be made in departments such as education and health.
"Our funding from the council comes in two lump sums and for the financial year 2011/12 the total was £670,000, which is £85,000 less than last year. Ten per cent of our main revenue budget was cut and then £35,000 was removed from our education programme, which is all our outreach work we do with schools.
"If you look back over the last seven years the funding has been at a standstill or cut, there hasn’t been an increase in funding for a long time, not since 2004."
He added: "The cuts in funding are on-going, we expect the funding to be cut back further next year and the noises we are hearing is culture can be funded through philanthropy."
He told the HNG because of core funding cuts, a long term plan to ensure the theatre is still able to offer such a wide range of entertainment, art and activities programme has to begin.
He said: "We have to think long term. If you value what we do and what we offer, then remember we are a charity.
"For example, if you have ever visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, by the time you have bought your ticket and got to the entrance, you have been reminded that it’s a charity five times. So we’ve got to change the way people think about Eden Court. If you ask the question, ‘why have you never donated money in the past?’, often the answer is ‘because you never asked’, so we as an industry need to get better at that."
Mr Marr told the HNG if extra funding doesn’t come in, it would mean changes for the theatre.
He said: "Yes there would be changes in the programming. But there are changes on a year to year basis anyway because people’s tastes change. But the fact is, the more money we have, the range of events we will be able to offer will be broader."