Old Court Windsor and Norden Farm excluded from RBWM budget
The AN ARTS venue and residents of the Royal Borough have spoken out on cutting arts funding from the council’s draft 2022/23 budget.
This affects both Maidenhead Norden Farm arts center and Windsors The Old Court.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) asked residents to take part in a survey about the consultation and give their opinion on it.
In a letter to The Observer, a couple said the recent news had come as a shock to them.
They said the arts are at the forefront of Britain’s modern achievements.
They explained: “Until the pandemic, Norden Farm managed to present a wide range of quality productions and events – despite losing their Arts Council grant a few years ago.
“These centers have, and should continue, to provide entertainment worthy of local communities.”
READ MORE: No arts funding in this year’s draft RBWM budget
A petition has also been started asking the council to include arts funding in the proposed budget.
He calls on RBWM to restore grant funding for the arts, increase local investment and recognize the importance of the arts in the Royal Borough.
Martin Denny, director of The Old Court, said the venue was aware council funding would not be available in 2022/23.
But he said he had positive conversations about wanting to return to direct funding the following year.
And the venue will also apply to community grant funds, as it has done in the past.
He said: “While we understand that the Council must manage and rebalance its budget following the impact of the pandemic, The Old Court will have to manage a significant drop in income at a time when we are just emerging from an extremely trying that we all live since March 2020.
“By promoting the only cinema in Windsor, which we have at The Old Court, our live events program and the opportunities for private hire of spaces here, including the cinema for personal and professional occasions, we aim to increase our income through these activities to help mitigate the loss of the RBWM grant.
Mr. Denny encourages residents to use the place as much as possible.
Also speaking to The Observer, Cllr Samantha Rayner, member responsible for residential services, shared his thoughts on this.
She said the two arts venues are much-loved partners in the Royal Borough.
Cllr Rayner explained that Norden Farm had received £80,000 and The Old Court had received £34,000 in the 2021/22 budget to help through the pandemic.
Currently, Norden Farm and The old yard have a service level agreement where they have to provide certain returns for the funding they get.
Cllr Rayner said the council is working to support additional revenue streams and encourage diversification.
“Since then, the board has had discussions with Norden Farm and is now awaiting the report from the independent external consultants’ reports to understand what options are available,” she said.
The council is also in regular contact with the old court.
Cllr Rayner added: “There are many opportunities for North Farm and Old Court and RBWM to work together in the future because the value of art and culture is important for mental health, disease prevention and general well-being.
“Determining how it works for both is the next step.”
RBWM’s budget consultation is always open for residents to have their say and the council encourages people to do so.