Statement on the Arts Council NPO funding announcement
Bedford Players Trust & the team at The Place are naturally very disappointed at being passed over for the Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding.
Despite praising the value that we bring to the cultural ecosystem here in Bedford they have chosen to not support our project work or the wider venue operation. Although there is much to celebrate from Arts Council England’s decision to continue funding for Bedford Creative Arts, as well as finally welcoming Full House Theatre Company & The Higgins Museum & Art Gallery to the portfolio, we can’t help but feel that this is a continued under-investment in the ‘bricks & mortar’ infrastructure of the town, which is vital to underpinning our long-term cultural development in Bedford.
As this next round of successful creative organisations from across England look for ways to bring their exciting cultural practice to towns like Bedford, it will be to organisations like The Place that they will turn – for the resources, connections & local understanding that can only occur by being physically embedded in a community of peoples & a geographic place.
We congratulate venues across the South East that have been successful at this very difficult juncture – many of whom were facing life or death situations with regards to their futures. In light of this decision our team & trustee board will be making difficult decisions about the next steps for the Organisation as we seek to find new ways to support our creative community & loyal audiences.
Our creative & cultural programme over the past 5 years (including during the difficult COVID years) has been structured around preparing the ground for this funding round: increasing the diversity of programme that we offer, supporting a wider range of performing artists, and reaching out beyond our doors to reach new audiences with initiatives across Bedford. It remains to be seen if this level of activity will be sustained going forwards, in light of this disappointing decision.
So much of work to support our growing programme of performances & activities has been balanced on the backs of un- & under-paid labour within our team – many of whom remain enthusiastic & passionately dedicated to delivering these opportunities. We had hoped that this NPO round would provide the financial security to adequately reimburse our hard-working team commensurate with the level of dedication & work they deliver.
We are fortunate that because of the hard-work & dedication of our team & the amazing volunteers that support us day-in-day-out, this decision won’t mean immediate life or death for our organisation. There will be others who received bad news today who may not be so lucky. Nevertheless, difficult & unwelcome choices will be faced over the coming weeks & months as we come to terms with the news.
Lead Producer: Programme & Partnerships
[N.B. Bedford Players Trust & The Place Bedford receive no core funding from Arts Council England, Central Government, nor Bedford Borough Council – we remain open purely by earning our own income, hiring our spaces out to fantastic local organisations offering services to people, and through donations & gifts that our audiences & supporters make throughout the year.
Now, more than ever, that support is needed – if you can help by making a small donation it is always most appreciated.]