AN ARTS venue and Royal Borough residents have spoken out about arts funding being scrapped from the council’s 2022/23 draft budget.

This affects both Maidenhead arts centre Norden Farm and Windsors' The Old Court.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) has asked residents to take part in a survey on the consultation and share their views on it.

In a letter to The Observer, one couple expressed the recent news came as a shock to them.

They said arts are at the forefront of Britain’s modern achievements.

They explained: “Until the pandemic, Norden Farm managed to present a broad range of quality productions and events - despite losing its Arts Council grant some years back.

“Such centres have, and should continue, to provide worthy entertainment for local communities.”

READ MORE: No arts funding in this year's RBWM draft budget

A petition was also set up urging the council to included arts funding in the draft budget.

It is calling on RBWM to reinstate grant funding for the arts, increase local investment and resognise the importance of the arts in the Royal Borough.

Martin Denny, director of The Old Court, said the venue was aware that funding from the council wouldn’t be forthcoming in 2022/23.

But he said he has had positive conversations about the desire to return to direct funding in the following year.

And the venue will also apply to community grant funds, as it’s done in the past.

He said: “Whilst we understand that the Council needs to manage and rebalance its budget following the impact of the pandemic, The Old Court will have to manage a significant drop in income at a time where we are just emerging from a hugely testing time which we have all experienced since March 2020.

“By promoting Windsor’s only cinema, which we have at The Old Court, our live events programme, and the opportunities for private hire of the spaces here including cinema for both personal and corporate occasions we aim to increase our income through these activities to help mitigate the loss of the RBWM grant.”

Mr Denny is encouraging residents to use the venue as much as possible.

Also speaking to The Observer, Cllr Samantha Rayner, lead member for residential services, shared her thoughts on the matter. 

She said the two arts venues are very valued partners in the Royal Borough.

Cllr Rayner explained Norden Farm received £80,000 and The Old Court got £34,000 in the 2021/22 budget.

Currently, Norden Farm and The Old Court have a service level agreement where they must provide certain returns for the funding they get.

Cllr Rayner said the council is working to support additional sources of income as well as encouraging diversifying.

“Since that time the council have been having discussions with Norden Farm and now are awaiting the report of the independent external consultants reports to understand what options are available,“ she said.

The council is also in regular contact with the Old Court.

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Cllr Rayner added: "There are many opportunities for Norden Farm and Old Court and RBWM to work together in the future as the value of art and culture is important for mental health, ill health prevention and general wellbeing.

"Working out how that works for both is the next step.”

RBWM’s budget consultation is still open for residents to have their say and the council is encouraging people to do so.