26 January 2022
At last night’s GBC Executive Meeting, a reduction of 23% in funding to the Yvonne Arnaud theatre in Guildford over the next three years was agreed.
GGG Cllr Ramsey Nagaty attended the meeting online and, referencing Guildford’s application for city status, said that the Yvonne Arnaud is a 'jewel in the crown' of the town. He spoke against a cut without providing a package in the round that perhaps included capital expenditure on improving or maintaining the assets of the main theatre and smaller Mill theatre sites. The theatre says their future is at risk.
Susan Parker was interviewed on Radio Surrey this morning. The presenter said that the Yvonne Arnaud is the only producing venue in Surrey. Founded in 1965, it brings in audiences from outside Surrey.
These are some of Susan’s comments:
“I think it’s hugely important and not just to Guildford. I think it’s an absolute cultural centre. It’s a centre for families,…… it’s interesting in terms of the art it produces, It generates fantastic touring shows…. It’s a real centre for the night-time economy for Guildford…. it’s important for tourism.”
Asked for her reaction to the funding cuts, Susan said:
“ I think they’re dire… The funding from the council has been frozen for a few years anyway. To cut it to the bone in a time that’s post-pandemic is disastrous.” She described the saving of £40,000 in the next year as “ chickenfeed for GBC but for the theatre a significant amount of money” and concluded "it’s an appalling decision”.
The interviewer suggested spending might be prioritised for such things as housing rather than ‘luxury’ items, but Susan held her ground.
“I don’t think that the arts are just a luxury item. I think … we need the arts to keep us alive culturally and I think that’s vital.”
You can hear the full interview here, with responses from GBC Council leader Joss Bigmore and the Equity Union. Scroll to 7.06am.