Arts centres protest over proposal to end grants

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The Independent Culture

Two leading arts centres have joined the growing chorus of protest against the threatened loss of grants which may put their futures in jeopardy.

Watermans, in Hounslow, west London, which is regarded as one of the most important theatrical venues for British Asian drama, and the London Disability Arts Forum, said they would be mounting campaigns to appeal against Arts Council England's (ACE) proposals to end their funding.

Leigh Stops, Watermans' marketing director, said: "We feel completely surprised by this decision. Our theatre audiences have gone up by 50 per cent over the past three years and the number of exhibitions has increased by 50 per cent over two years."

The centre may now lose its annual 418,000 grant.

ACE, funded by the Government and the National Lottery, said an increase in funding had led it to review where money was spent. It plans to fund a total of 80 new organisations, including seven new disability groups.

There will be a 36 per cent increase in financial support for the Hackney Empire and a 230 per cent increase for the Mayor of London's Thames Festival, among others. The 194 groups affected by the cuts have until 15 January to appeal.