Lancaster theatre announces job losses and reduced programming due to funding shortfall

The Dukes theatre in Lancaster.
The Dukes theatre in Lancaster.
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Job cuts and a scale back of activities have been announced at The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster.

The Moor Lane theatre said it will “structure a new business model which sets out a renewed mission and vision to secure a sustainable financial future”.

The Dukes Theatre Lancaster

The Dukes Theatre Lancaster

The Dukes is Lancashire’s only producing theatre venue and also operates as an arts centre, cinema and creative learning hub.

But the organisation has seen reductions in its core subsidy, particularly during the last two years with the withdrawal of funding from Lancashire County Council.

A review of the current operating model is now being undertaken, leading to the development of a revised business plan which sets out how the Dukes will meet the increased demands of operating with a lower income.

The Dukes said that the changes will result in a reduction in the activities it currently offers and a number of positions becoming redundant as changes are made. Consultations with staff will take place.

John Chell, chair of the Dukes Board, said: “The Dukes has always operated on very fine margins and relied on the financial support of its partners. The loss of core funding from the county council has had a major impact on our finances and we need to cut our cloth accordingly.

“This means that our activity will need to reduce, in addition to the plans we’ve already announced to postpone the next Williamson Park show until 2020. Regrettably, a number of redundancies may also be required as we take action to put the theatre on a firm financial footing.

“We are, however, determined to retain the Dukes’ reputation as a leading producing theatre and continue its role as a much-valued cultural asset for the Lancaster district.”

A new business plan will be developed with the support of the theatre’s key partners, Lancaster City Council and Arts Council England.

Coun Darren Clifford, Cabinet member with responsibility for leisure, culture and tourism, said: “Lancaster City Council championed the foundation of the Dukes and has been a proud supporter ever since.

“In addition to the funding the council provides to the theatre, it also has a strategic leadership role in the development and success of the district’s arts and cultural offer.

“We are pleased to offer our support to the Dukes as it weathers these challenging times and look forward to assisting on the implementation of a new business plan so it can continue its role as a vital and vibrant arts centre at the heart of our community.”