Councillors have been told they face a difficult balancing act when it comes to funding the Lichfield Garrick.
Recent figures revealed the local authority expected the subsidy it gives the theatre to fall to £310,000 a year – down more than 50% on the £663,200 it handed over in 2013/14.
Cllr Andrew Smith, Cabinet member for leisure, said while funding for the Garrick needed to be considered, the value of the site to the local economy shouldn’t be underestimated.
“It’s definitely a balancing act,” he said. “It’s my view, and I hope the view of the council, that the Garrick is an important asset to this area.
“However, times and finances are tight across the board for the council and we have to strike a balance between supporting the Garrick and doing the right thing for the taxpayer.
“We have to make sure we are pushing the Garrick financially without doing damage to its viability.”
His views were echoed by Conservative colleague, Cllr Bob Awty, chairman of the leisure, parks and waste overview and scrutiny committee.
Cllr Awty said the Garrick’s value needed to be recognised in more than just financial terms.
“The theatre is not just about the shows,” he said. “They also perform outreach work which is second to none.
“Without the Garrick doing this work, there may be additional pressures on the council to deliver such projects.
“My view is that the Garrick is in good hands and is providing good value for money.”
Labour opposition group leader, Cllr Sue Woodward, said she welcomed “difficult questions” being asked over the finances of the Garrick.
“There are undoubtedly huge challenges to balance the competing pressures from the Garrick and the taxpayers going forward,” she said.
“I hope any financial decisions are made in a fair way.”