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8 March 2022

Farès K Moussa Strode Theatre’s interim Manager

As Strode Theatre announces its Spring programme, Theatre Manager calls for help and criticises unfair arts and culture funding across the County.

Strode Theatre has announced a new full Spring Programme, including the first Strode Book Festival.

The new programme is released with a sobering plea from the Theatre’s former Theatre Manager and current interim Theatre Manager, Farès K Moussa, who has said that, since Covid, the theatre is under the most difficult financial position it has ever been.

In a statement issued by Farès Moussa he said: “Ever since 2011, when Mendip District Council ceased funding to the arts, the Theatre has struggled to the tune of a £50,000+ deficit each year -a hole plugged every year by Strode College and Street Parish Council. As we project 10% of our audience to never come back after Covid, changes in film distributors’ business models since Covid which will impact our revenue, 7%+ inflation, 15.7% minimum wage increase since pre-Covid, and a 1.25% increase in national Insurance contributions as well as some significant projected capital costs, we now find ourselves looking at a potential £100,000+ deficit per year, unless something changes drastically.”

“I am working to find ways we can adapt, but even with these operational and programming changes, we will struggle to meet our costs, certainly for the foreseeable future. This is why I am reaching out to the community and to businesses throughout the County for help. I am open to suggestions and approaches for sponsorship and partnership opportunities; and of course, one of the best ways anyone can help is by coming out to watch live theatre and music and films on the big screen or by joining or donating to Friends of Strode Theatre. Next year, we look forward to celebrating Strode Theatre having been a hub for arts and culture for 60 years and I am actively seeking partnerships and fundraising opportunities to help us celebrate this occasion and look forward.”

Only a week after South Somerset District Council announced £6m funding for the Octagon Theatre, Farès criticised the arts and funding landscape in Somerset

“Funding to the arts in the County in the last decade or so has been very arbitrary; with some Councils offering considerable financial help and others offering none. I hope very much that the new unitary authority model will mean that there will be fairer and more consistent funding opportunities throughout the County.”

Strode Theatre was donated to the community in 1963, and initially run by Somerset County Council. It is now part of Strode College, operating mainly on a commercial basis, with around 55,000 audience and over 400 events each year, including many community shows. It receives limited public funding from Street Parish Council and the British Film Institute.

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