Leatherhead Drama Festival must go on without borough council funds

This Is Local London: The festival's patron Sir Michael Caine The festival's patron Sir Michael Caine

The show must go on for a drama festival left without borough council funding for a second year in a row.

The Leatherhead Drama Festival, whose patron is actor Sir Michael Caine, will nevertheless showcase 27 plays, including nine new plays, in May.

The festival, now in its 10th year, had its application for a £3,000-grant rejected by Mole Valley Council amid continuing financial pressures.

Festival chairman David Brett said: "Not having Mole Valley on board makes it feel as though they are not supporting us anymore. "But there’s less money around. We have got to learn to find ourselves other funding sources."

Mr Brett said the festival had two £2,000-grants from Surrey County Councillors for this year and thanked individuals for their generous support in 2012.

He said: "We have been extremely lucky in getting some respite but it’s still going to be difficult. I would say I hope we are going to cover ourselves this year."

The festival costs approximately £25,000 and will take place between May 6 and 17 with a gala awards night on May 18.

Its patron Sir Michael, the Oscar-winning actor who starred in Alfie and the Italian Job, has also been invited to the festival.

Mr Brett said: "If he is in the country and available I’m quite sure he will appear."

Liberal Democrat councillor Dave Howarth spoke out against a second year of grant cuts for arts organisations including Leatherhead’s Freewheelers Theatre Company.

Coun Howarth said: "Without this funding these organisations are going to struggle to do as well as before or struggle to survive at all."

Mole Valley council leader Councillor Chris Townsend was one of the two county councillors to allocate £2,000 to the drama festival this year.

Coun Townsend said arts organisations did not meet the criteria for grants this year due to less funds, but no groups reported being at serious risk.

He said: "They may might well be having difficulties but they are not going to the wall.

"We did not have funds available."

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