Jacksons Lane faces death by a thousand cuts

A LAST ditch bid was launched yesterday to save Jacksons Lanes vital Arts Council funding

Charlotte Newton

A LAST ditch bid was launched yesterday to save Jacksons Lanes vital Arts Council funding.

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone and Councillor Neil Williams were the latest to plead the case for the beleaguered arts centre which has only just re-opened after suffering storm damage in January last year.

The centre on Archway Road is one of nearly 200 theatres across the country facing massive cuts and the bad news is set to be announced tomorrow.

Ms Featherstone handed a 400-signature petition to the Arts Council on Monday. She said: "I left the chief executive in no uncertainty of the strength of local feeling on the issue. If Jacksons Lane goes, there really will be little public art provision left locally and I will not let Highgate be turned into a cultural desert."

Cllr Williams, the Lib Dem leader on Haringey Council, said: "We were left with the strong impression that the continued support of the Arts Council depends very heavily indeed on a strong, genuine and wholehearted commitment from Haringey Council to the centre.

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"Now is the time for Haringey to show its support and commitment.

"While the council has taken action on urgent repairs, this is a sticking plaster approach. It needs to put money where its mouth is and show that it truly does want to save this great community asset."

But Cllr Lorna Reith denied claims that Haringey Council was to blame for the Arts Council's potential withdrawal of funding.

Cllr Reith said: "The Arts Council hasn't seen the repairs we've made since the storms damaged the building and I would urge members to visit and then write to Haringey Council and tell us where we should be spending money on the infrastructure - if that is the reason behinds its withdrawal of funding.

"I think the Arts Council is using this as an excuse because it can't afford Jacksons Lane and it's much easier to blame the local authority. We would very much like to spend money on Jacksons Lane because it's an excellent centre, but we don't have a spare £1million."

No one from the Arts Council was available for comment, but it has previously said the cuts are designed to concentrate funding on organisations of excellence.

Other leading theatres which could be hit by the proposed cuts include the Bristol Old Vic, the oldest regional theatre in Britain, The Bush theatre in Shepherd's Bush and the illustrious National Student Drama Festival (NSDF).

A major campaign against the cuts has been launched by 150 theatre stars such as Hampstead residents Jim Broadbent and Bob Hoskins and Highgate comedian Victoria Wood.

Actor John Simm from Crouch End, whose West End hit Elling first opened at The Bush, has also urged the Arts Council to rethink.