Portsmouth theatre and gallery celebrate arts funding

Joanne Bushnell from the ASPEX Gallery at Gunwharf Quays. ''Picture: Steve Reid (122166-746)
Joanne Bushnell from the ASPEX Gallery at Gunwharf Quays. ''Picture: Steve Reid (122166-746)
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TWO arts groups have welcomed funding boosts worth hundreds of thousands – despite their awards being reduced.

Both Aspex gallery, in Gunwharf Quays, and New Theatre Royal, in Guildhall Walk, won funding for the next three years from Arts Council England (ACE) yesterday.

Caroline Sharman, executive director of the New Theatre Royal, said: ‘We’re happy.

‘One would always like more but wouldn’t everybody.

‘It’s an endorsement of what we are planning.

‘We need this security. These are challenging times.’

The theatre is due to get £278,856 over three years.

It means between 2015-2018 the theatre will receive £92,952 a year, the same it received in 2014-15. But the figure is a cut from the last two years.

As reported, the theatre is in the middle of £4m rebuild with the University of Portsmouth. The cash from ACE will go toward projects the theatre is running, not the capital build.

And yesterday staff at the Aspex gallery were celebrating after securing £112,117 each year for three years.

Overall it is a cut from £343,685 to £336,351 this round.

But the people behind the gallery are still pleased.

Chairwoman of the board of trustees, Deborah Owen-Ellis Clark, said: ‘The board of trustees is pleased that ACE recognises the importance of the work Aspex does as a National Portfolio Organisation and we are very proud of the Aspex team.

‘The team will now be able to continue their important work in helping to enrich the cultural environment in Portsmouth and surrounding area.’

Gareth Colwell, of Aspex, said: ‘We had a 56 per cent cut in the last round. That was £100,000 a year. We lost five full time staff.’

Tory Councillor Linda Symes is the cabinet member for culture at Portsmouth City Council.

She said the funding awards were wonderful.

‘It’s fantastic. I just think it shows confidence in what we’re doing here,’ she said.

She added cuts had to be made to the arts as the government needed to reduce spending nationally.

It comes as ACE cut funding to the English National Opera by 29 per cent yesterday.