26 January 2017
Artistic Director Paul Miller, Executive Director Sarah Nicholson and Chair of the Board Richard Humphreys issue a statement on the future of funding at the Orange Tree Theatre
We wanted to give all those with an interest in the future of the Orange Tree an update on our funding. The last two and a half years have seen plenty of good news at the OT with consistently strong audience figures averaging 85% capacity, including very high numbers of newcomers and under 30s. Our reach also extends to the active engagement with 10,000 young people each year through our Education and Participation programme. We have won 11 major industry awards. And in 2016 alone our work played in 24 other towns and cities.
Since April 2015, when we left the National Portfolio and therefore ceased to receive annual funding from Arts Council England (ACE), we have cut core costs significantly and created a new producing model which includes collaborating with other organisations outside of London.
We are delighted that we are so popular with our audiences but even if we sold out at every performance ticket sales could only provide 70% of the income we need. We have a three-year Business Plan that does not include core regular funding from ACE but instead aims to achieve a target of 25% fundraised income by 2019-20, with another 10% coming from statutory sources.
At the same time, there’s been a further tightening in the funding climate. ACE’s national priority is to ensure that any new money is invested outside of London, whilst the Portfolio must also now include libraries and museums. Having taken stock of our specific situation, and understanding these pressures on the public purse, we have taken the decision not to submit an NPO application for the 2018-22 period.
We continue to have an excellent relationship with ACE, and last year we were successful in achieving Catalyst: Evolve investment in fundraising, and Grants for the Arts support towards additional activity to develop new work and support emerging artists. Considering the breadth of funding streams available at ACE we feel that Grants for the Arts and strategic funding are a better fit for the OT at this time.
We wholly support the five goals that ACE has set out for 2010-2020, so this decision doesn’t alter the artistic direction of the theatre. We will continue to make a unique contribution to the national theatre ecology by mixing new work by emerging artists with pertinent re-discoveries from our rich heritage. We are a producing theatre that collaborates with other companies and there are no plans for that to change. We will remain members of UK Theatre and work within Equity and UKT agreements.
We are confident in the robustness of our Business Plan over the next three years, yet we want to emphasise that its success is reliant on the increasing support of our funders and our audiences. Our fundraising strategy involves a diverse mix of individual donations, memberships, grant support (from trusts and foundations), business sponsorship and legacies. And we are very proud to be supported by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.
Those wishing to demonstrate their support may be interested in our :DISCOVER campaign – donations to which will be matched by ACE as part of the Catalyst:Evolve programme.
Statement by Neil Darlison, Director, Theatre and London of Arts Council England:
“The Orange Tree goes from strength to strength; its programme is increasingly collaborative, it is attracting significant numbers of new audiences and it is producing theatre of the highest quality. I couldn’t be more pleased that it has achieved this, and much more, over the last couple of years.”
For more detailed figures and information about the Orange Tree, you can download the 2015-16 Annual Review here