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Last Updated: Monday, 28 August 2006, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Reprieve for 7:84 theatre company
7:84 website
The company was founded more than 30 years ago
A theatre company facing shutdown after its funding was axed has won a partial reprieve, it has been confirmed.

The Glasgow-based 7:84 company had appealed to the Scottish Arts Council over the withdrawal of its funding.

It can now expect to receive funding until next March, but with no guarantee of cash beyond that point.

The arts council had announced in March that the company's "core" funding of about 235,000 a year would stop at the end of August.

From March 2007 it will be eligible to apply for funds for individual projects, but with no guarantees.

'Treated unfairly'

One assessment carried out for the council accused the company of "turning sharp political satire into panto for the working classes."

The decision led to a political row and arts council bosses were questioned by MSPs on Holyrood's public petitions committee.

The company had complained it was being treated unfairly as other core-funded organisations were receiving guaranteed funding until March 2007.

The chairman of 7:84, Chris Bartter, said the funding extension was "not a solution but a step forward".

We hope that this step forward signals the restart of the company
Lorenzo Mele
Artistic director

He said the company has already lost three of its four staff, leaving only artistic director Lorenzo Mele.

"The appeal committee is recommending to the Scottish Arts Council they reinstate the funding until March 2007, putting us in the same position as the other companies," he added.

"It's only a small step forward because after 2007 we still move on to project-based funding, which means we have to apply for funding for every project we undertake.

"But at least it gives us that space to look at what we can do and develop some more projects, particularly supporting new radical writers."

Mr Mele said: "Whilst the withdrawal of funding has had a damaging impact on our planned productions for this year, and has forced cuts in our staffing, we hope that this step forward signals the restart of the company.

"In particular we have a number of positive projects we want to develop in the autumn, which we hope can both retain 7:84's profile as a cutting edge political and outreach drama producer and lead to successful plans to address our future."

Earliest opportunity

A Scottish Arts Council spokeswoman said the outcome showed the value of the independent appeal process.

"We acknowledge that 7:84's 2006/07 application was not considered under the criteria applying at that time, and was instead assessed against the criteria applying from April 2007," she said.

"We are currently seeking the earliest opportunity to refer 7:84's 06/07 application back to council, as recommended by the appeal committee.

"This may happen as early as Tuesday."

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