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Petition to save Wolverhampton youth theatre signed by 1,400

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

More than 1,400 people have signed a petition to save a treasured youth theatre group in Wolverhampton.

Organisers today warned they face a 'fight against time' before council bosses rule on proposals to axe funding for Central Youth Theatre tomorrow.

Wolverhampton City Council currently provides the group with an annual grant of just over £13,000, accounting for a fifth of its turnover.

But the local authority has announced proposals to end the grant from April, which group bosses said could force it to close within months.

A petition set up two days ago now has more than 1,400 signatures demanding the cost-cutting plans are shelved. Organisers are also asking supporters to write to Councillor Elias Mattu expressing their concerns.

  • Click here to view the petition

Director Jane Ward said: "The support has been amazing. Besides the online petition, over a hundred people have written letters asking Councillor Mattu to reconsider the proposal to cut our grant so rapidly.

"Central Youth Theatre has touched the lives of several thousand young people over 30 years and the impact of work has been felt by not only the young people, but also their families and communities across the city.

"There are three generations of people who recognise the value of our work," she added.

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"Despite the enormity of the council's cuts, we know that they still have options to support groups such as ourselves to give us more time to build sustainability for our future.

"Our position is even more difficult as where we are based is threatened with cuts."

The youth theatre group, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, aims to be self-sufficient by 2015/16, but managers say they need next year's grant to secure other funding.

It is one of 13 groups in the city that would see its funding stopped under the proposals. As part of £1.6 million cuts, a further 17 would receive money only for the next financial year, while 12 will retain support for the foreseeable future.

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In 2011, the Dunkley Street theatre group was the only youth theatre in the UK to be awarded a Cultural Olympiad grant of £100,000 to stage an international youth theatre festival.

And superstar soul singer Beverley Knight tweeted her support for the group when the proposed funding cuts were first announced.

Among those to have signed the petition are Birmingham film-maker Mark Pressdee and actor Tom Parry, from the BBC sitcom Badults.

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