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Letter: the Merlin needs Friends

by adamboyden on 5 August, 2011

Letter to Somerset Standard, Thursday July 28th: 

I read last week’s front page story about the ‘precarious’ situation of the Merlin Theatre with concern. The Merlin is a much-loved local venue which is much too important to close. The abolition of funding earlier in 2011 from both Somerset County, who own the theatre, and Mendip District Councils (both Conservative) is now threatening its survival, with only some funding from Frome Town Council remaining, so the local community does need to step in.

At the recent CreativeFrome debate I was pleased to see the enthusiasm amongst Frome’s ‘creative community’, Frome Chamber of Commerce and some Town Councillors for a future strategy to support arts venues and creative activities in the face of funding cuts. This might include greater sharing of resources, joint bidding for new public or private sector funds (as encouraged by the Government’s new funding streams, such as for endowments), collaborating more closely on promotion, initiatives and projects, and to generate more ‘bums on seats’. All this, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Creative Business Festival initiative, if it wins a bid for funding from Somerset County Council, should also help in future. 

As a new district councillor, I have challenged Mendip District Council about the impact of its abolition of all arts funding, and I will soon be meeting Mendip’s Cabinet member responsible, with local arts sector leaders. I would therefore like to hear how people think Mendip Council can and should support the area’s creative sector (in ways other than direct funding) – please contact me on cllr.boyden@mendip.gov.uk.

I am also joining the Merlin’s ‘Friends’ scheme and encourage all supporters to do so – please call the theatre on 01373 465949 to join up.  See also the Merlin’s website here.

 

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