Arts charities ‘less of a priority’ for funders as theatre reveals it will close


A community theatre charity based in Newcastle upon Tyne will close early next year because of funding challenges. 

Curious Monkey, which has been in operation for more than 10 years, produces theatre shows with under-represented communities such as care-experienced young people and refugees and asylum-seekers.

It has five core employees – one contract was due to end in December, and the remaining four staff will be made redundant as the charity closes next year. 

It also works with 30 to 50 freelance artists every year to deliver its projects and programmes.

Amy Golding, artistic director of Curious Monkey, said the charity made the “incredibly difficult decision” to close because of funding concerns.

She told Third Sector that while the charity had not experienced a major loss of funding, the climate had become “much more challenging”.

She said arts charities were less of a priority for funders due to an increase in need for frontline charities that provide food, shelter and basic necessities to deprived or vulnerable communities.

“With costs rising, less to go round and the success rate of some funding bids as low as 4 per cent, the organisation would have been returning to a very hand-to-mouth existence,” said Golding. 

“The model of an arts charity without long-term core investment or a regular income in another way is becoming very challenging to sustain.”

Golding said that without the resources needed to support its team and participants, the charity decided to close and “find new ways to have an impact” instead.

She said: “I know all the staff have a huge commitment to social justice and equity – and many of us will continue to work in the arts and sanctuary sector or with young people supporting the most marginalised in our society to have a voice.”

Jenny Dewar, executive director of Curious Monkey, added: “We are so proud of what we have created, the accomplishments of the company, all the brilliant people involved and the impact the charity has had on many people’s lives.”

The charity will cease operations at the end of March 2024, with its full closure to be completed by the end of June.

Troupe, the charity’s creative group for care-experienced young people, will finish in December and The Arriving Project, a programme for people seeking sanctuary as refugees and asylum seekers, will finish in March.

Curious Monkey will also hold a celebration event in Newcastle upon Tyne on 15 March to commemorate its work over the past decade.

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