An amateur society has become the first to be accepted for new Isle of Man Arts Council funding that will protect their shows at the Gaiety Theatre from financial loss.
Centre Stage Productions’ successful application means their autumn production of Annie will be underwritten to the tune of £10,000 – the maximum available.
It comes as the Arts Council diversifies the support it offers ahead of the first increase in amateur hire charges in nine years at the Gaiety Theatre on 1 April.
Since 2012, the Arts Council has subsidised amateur societies to help them hire the historic and very special Douglas venue at a heavily reduced rate – accounting for around a quarter of their annual budget.
But the need to address budgets, in light of rising income targets for the complex, has led the Arts Council to develop its support options.
Dr Alex Allinson MHK, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture and Marlene Maska MLC, Chair of the Isle of Man Arts Council, met with representatives from amateur groups in November to discuss the policy change.
Dr Allinson, said:
‘This new approach will give amateur productions a guarantee against losses while allowing the Arts Council to support the arts in new and exciting ways.
‘Changing how we support amateur groups has become necessary, but we will ensure those groups can still access support and a reduced theatre hire rate.’
Emma Callin, Head of Villa Marina, Gaiety Theatre and the Arts, said:
‘Amateur performances play a significant part in our annual programme.
‘They mean our audiences can access high quality musical theatre and drama on their doorstep, and provide invaluable opportunities to get involved in the arts, with proven benefits to wellbeing.’
Centre Stage Productions will hold auditions in April, before the curtain rises on a week of performances in October 2021.