Liverpool’s Royal Court is to annually receive Arts Council England funding as it becomes a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) next year.
The newly announced recognition for the theatre, which will take effect from April 2018, will give it the same national status as city venues including Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.
Through the initiative the recently refurbished Royal Court will receive annual revenue funding of over £225,000 per year until 2022.
The venue has produced over 75 shows in the last 10 years, including the hit play ‘Brick Up the Mersey Tunnels’, and produces an average of eight, mainly new productions each year.
Kevin Fearon, the executive producer at the 1,150-seat art deco theatre, says: “We have been described as mouthy outsiders and noisy neighbours but this recognition by Arts Council England means that we will now be able to come to the table with other Liverpool venues when it comes to planning the future of culture in this city. We are looking forward to it!”
Arts Council England has already supported the three-phase refurbishment of the theatre through its capital grant scheme, with support also coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Liverpool City Council.
Gillian Miller, the chief executive of the Royal Court who has been responsible for raising money for the renovation and has also been key to the successful NPO bid, adds: “This announcement is transformational for the theatre and is an incredible achievement for everyone who has been part of the Royal Court’s remarkable journey over the last 10 years.
“It shows Arts Council England believes that culture should be widely accessible and we are very grateful for its support.
“The status of NPO will allow us to broaden our community involvement, widen our participation programmes and help to make the theatre more sustainable and resilient.
“Basically it will give us a whole new lease of life and help to safeguard the theatre for future generations to enjoy.”
Arts Council England’s northern director, Jane Beardsworth, says the organisation is “pleased to support” the venue’s NPO application, which “showed inventiveness and ambition”.
Meanwhile, Merseyside Dance Initiative (MDI) was unsuccessful in its NPO application this time having previously received regular Arts Council England funding for 25 years.
Dr Cathy Butterworth, chair of the board of trustees for the group which is involved in a number of community events including Liverpool’s Leap festival, says: “We are extremely disappointed at Arts Council England’s decision to cut NPO funding to MDI, the only organisation that is solely dedicated to the development and presentation of dance in Liverpool.
“While we have concerns about the risks that this decision presents to us as an organisation, and to the support and presentation of dance in Liverpool, we are absolutely committed to moving forward positively with a strategy for our future development, and the development of dance in this city.”