CAMPAIGNERS win big after the Royal Borough Council ditches a plan to scrap all of its essential arts funding.

In the build-up to the 2022/23 budget, public outcry ensued when it was unveiled Maidenhead’s Norden Farm and Windsor’s The Old Court would receive £0 from the local authority.

A petition was set up by the Public Campaign for the Arts, which garnered over 4,900 signatures, and public pushback from Maidenhead MP Theresa May and comedians such as Russell Brand piled on the pressure for the council to reconsiders its position.

Both arts spaces feared they would close down for good if this core funding was scrapped. But council leader Andrew Johnson announced last week an arts funding package of £140,000.

Reacting to the news, Mrs May said it was ‘extremely welcomed’ for the council to re-instate its funds to Norden Farm this year.

Royal Borough Observer: Theresa May Theresa May

She said: “I pay tribute to everyone involved including the Public Campaign for the Arts and their supporters for their campaigning. 5,000 of the Public Campaign for the Arts supporters petitioned the council in support of Norden Farm. I know this will have made a difference.

“I also want to thank my constituents who have taken the time to contact me to show their support. Over the past few weeks, I have been working closely with the Public Campaign for the Arts and the Norden Farm team to lobby the RBWM to change their decision and I am pleased to see our collective efforts have paid off.

“The arts play such an important role nationwide, helping to enrich our communities and expand our intellectual horizons. Norden Farm is an invaluable centre for the arts and provides excellent programmes for the entire local community.”

READ MORE: Windsor & Maidenhead Council will fund Norden Farm & The Old Court

Art specialist consultants Counterculture reviewed Norden Farm’s business model to find out ways how it could be ‘self-financing’. It laid out recommendations the 220-seated venue and the council can do.

Norden Farm artistic director and chief executive Jane Corry said “We are so very grateful to our amazing supporters; audiences, volunteers, artists, residents, community groups, politicians and Public Campaign for the Arts, for showing such love and determination to get sustained arts funding returned, and to the council for showing how much they value the arts.”

Norden Farm is set to receive £115,000 from the council this year, whereas The Old Court will get £25,000.

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Martin Denny, director of the Windsor venue, said: “It’s 75 per cent of what we had last year, so a big improvement on the previously proposed outcome. Most significantly it shows that RBWM have understood the importance of the arts to the local population, and have changed their mind because of that. We’re hugely grateful for all the support we have received from so many quarters.”

Jack Gamble, director of the Public Campaign for the Arts, added: “This remarkable turnaround is the result of people joining together to champion the value of art and culture in our lives and communities. Thank you to everybody who has been a part of our campaign, and to the council for listening to residents’ concerns.”