Eastern Angles Theatre Company advocate for a reconsideration of cultural investment cuts proposed by Suffolk County Council

4 January 2024

Eastern Angles Theatre Company is disappointed at the news of a proposed decision to cut investment to the arts and cultural sector across Suffolk by 100% from April 2025 by Suffolk County Council (SCC). The proposed cuts come at a critical time for the cultural sector having been severely impacted by the pandemic and subsequent social restrictions as well as increased costs of operating.

Jake Smith Artistic Director / CEO of Eastern Angles said,

“I know local authority budgets are under extreme pressure from the drastic underfunding from the Government, and council leaders across the UK are having to make tough decisions. However it is important to reframe investment in arts and culture as exactly that: an investment. It delivers not only an economic return but also contributes to the social health and wellbeing of our community.”

Eastern Angles Theatre Company for over 40 years has been a proud recipient of Suffolk County Council Investment (SCC) and we share the belief that arts and culture are a vital part of the ecosystem of every day life.

Eastern Angles Chair, Alison Stewart M.B.E said,

“Eastern Angles is proud to help deliver on SCC priorities in and with local communities through working with young people and adults, whilst contributing to the local economy through our provision and we will do all that we can to sustain that.”

On average Eastern Angles annually presents up to102 performances, 83 of which are across Suffolk with 27 Towns and villages visited. 2590 saw performances of our street theatre in Suffolk. The Eastern Angles Centre hosted 23 Suffolk based groups with 7563 people coming into the building. Including: Ipswich Reggae Choir, Inside Out Community, Magpie Performers, South Street Kids, Suffolk Palaeography and Let’s Talk Reading. We gave 100 + hours of free rehearsal space to new and young companies from Suffolk and through workshops engaged 2876 Young People.

A local community partner has told us: “We know that we currently have about 3,000 families in the Ipswich area experiencing poverty. These families have told us that they struggle to find activities for them and their children due to access and cost. We know that the Eastern Angles building sits at a junction between 2 highly deprived wards where community integration and isolation are barriers, parents have told us that engaging in activities with their children not only helps with the emotional and cognitive progression of the child but also impact significantly on adult mental health and wellbeing in a positive way.”

Our core funding to cease from April 2025 will have an immense impact within our organisation, for both the scale and amount of work we’re able to deliver and the local, national and community partnerships we can continue to develop for the young people and adults we work with across the county of Suffolk.

As an organisation we are grateful to be in annual receipt of Investment from Arts Council England and support from Ipswich Borough Council, with which the scale and reach of our creative programme needs to remain intact and present across Suffolk.

A shared statement from DanceEast, Eastern Angles Theatre Company, First Light Festival, The New Wolsey Theatre, Primadonna Festival, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, and Suffolk Artlink - the local organisations impacted by Suffolk County’s proposal to cease investment in the cultural sector from April 2025.

“Whilst we will need some time to consider the full impact of these proposals, our immediate concern is how any decision might impact the people of Suffolk. The proposed cut to these organisations will provide an extremely modest difference to the Council’s overall finances, representing a saving of just 0.057% of the Council’s 23/24 revenue budget.  However, the ‘cost’ to our County will be so much more significant. Collectively, our organisations support 24,493 children and young people and 76,516 vulnerable** people through our community engagement work.  We also provide permanent employment for 154 staff, and project or contract employment for a further 499 staff.  Suffolk-wide, the culture sector plays an important part in providing employment for local people, with almost 6,985 jobs* being supported by the sector. Our organisations, both collectively and individually, call on Suffolk County Council to consider the merit of a small cost saving, compared to the huge impact this will have on communities across Suffolk who benefit from our work.”

*New Anglia LEP Cultural Evidence report April 2021 Evidence Report

**those over 65, or with disabilities, in receipt of means tested benefits or who are rurally isolated.

Eastern Angles Theatre Company remain committed to an open dialogue with SCC and other stakeholders to reconsider the proposed cut to our cultural investment. Collaboration will unite us and together we hope to work together towards a more forward thinking proposition and reconsider the proposed cut in its entirety.

Eastern Angles Theatre Company in response to its local community asking how to help across Suffolk is advising people to contact their county councillors and challenge this decision. Click here to find your councillor on the Suffolk County Council website.