Rose Theatre's future secured by University grant

Kingston University has thrown the Rose Theatre a £300,000 lifeline, securing its future for the next year.

Managers at the troubled theatre can breathe easy for the next 12 months after the University promised that it would extend its funding agreement with the theatre.

The University’s decision comes despite a cut in government funding for higher education and growing concerns that student numbers will drop next year.

A University spokesperson said: “The University is expecting to continue support for the Rose Theatre during the coming year at the existing annual level for use of facilities including graduations.”

It was the first good news on the Rose’s funds front after a difficult year.

Last January Kingston Council renegotiated the terms of its financial funding for the theatre  cutting its support by £100,000, from £600,000 to £500,000 a year.

In March more bad news was delivered when the Arts Council of England chose to refuse the Rose’s £600,000 grant request.

“It was a blow to us”, said The Rose’s General Manager, Jerry Gunn. “To make our model work completely, we really need that sort of funding.”

As a result of the funding cuts the Rose was forced to make four people redundant in June. 

“It was a horrible process but we have passed through the other side and we continue to operate”, said Mr Gunn.

Mr Gunn said the Rose was looking for other sources of funding.

“We continue to be supported by the University and the Council, and we are grateful for that. We can continue to operate, but, to reach our full potential, we have to secure support from other organisations,” explained Mr Gunn.

So far this year, the Rose has signed two funding agreements with corporate sponsors and trust foundations. The theatre’s autumn season was supported HCBS and Esmée Fairbairn, an independent foundation supporting arts, which gave the Rose £75,000. Four more sponsors will be supporting the spring season.

Mr Gunn said that the management is also seeking to increase box office sales, producing more plays per year without changing the Rose’s idea of theatre to attract a greater audience.

“Our productions have been very well received so far and had very good reviews,” said Mr Gunn. 

The Importance of Being Ernest was a great success, The Snow Queen (Rose Theatre’s Christmas Play) sales are ahead of what we imagined to be and also box office income for The Lady From The Sea (a Henrik Ibsen play, starring Joely Richardson,  which will be on show at the Rose in February) is very positive,” explained the General Manager.

Last year the Rose sold 115,000 tickets for 20 plays, about 5,750 tickets per production, for a total income of £1,891,186.

Sales were not enough to fill the theatre every night, since it has an 899 seats capacity and some plays were on for more than an entire month, but were enough to make the Rose profitable for the first time since its construction.

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