Changes to funding for the Lichfield Garrick will not threaten the future of the venue, a council leader has said.
Lichfield District Council is debating plans to reduce the amount of money it hands over to the venue from the current £250,000 a year to £75,000 a year by 2025.
Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of the local authority, told an overview and scrutiny committee meeting last week that “frank” discussions had taken place to find a way to reduce the burden on the taxpayer.
But he said it was important that the theatre’s future was secure.
“I’ve had a number of frank but very constructive conversations with the chair of trustees at Lichfield Garrick.
“I don’t want anyone thinking this is something that is being done to the Garrick – it is very much a process and an outcome we have arrived at with the Garrick.
“Those conversations have started at the point where we both recognise that for Lichfield district the Garrick is an absolute gem.
“While we want to reduce the funding over a longer period, we all must recognise that the Garrick’s success is the district’s success and therefore we don’t ever want to do anything that would jeopardise that.
“This funding helps us achieve that, helps us bring the funding down, but I’ve given my guarantees that if anything changes wildly in the future then we need to come back to the table – and that works both ways.”Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council
A report to the meeting from cabinet member Cllr Richard Cox said the future relationship with the city theatre “must be considered”.
Part of the recommendations – which will now go forward to a meeting of the cabinet next week – is to introduce as new streamlined set of key performance indicators (KPIs) which will allow better assessment of the local authority’s link with the Garrick.
The meeting discussed using the KPIs to drive a broader approach to outreach after Cllr Cox said discussions had taken place on using Beacon Park for such projects.
But Cllr Mike Wilcox, Conservative representative for Alrewas and Fradley, said it was important the focus was on more than just the city.
“There are other parks across the district we could utilise – it’s important the Garrick gets out to rural areas and Burntwood as well.
“There are opportunities and parks we could utilise for the work. I hope they will look outside the city as well in doing that.”Cllr Mike Wilcox, Lichfield District Council