Eastgate cuts losses but SBC support vital

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The survival of the Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre in Peebles after 10 years of operating is “very much dependent” on the core funding it receives from the council.

The local authority, facing unprecedented budgetary pressures, is due to decide in February if it will continue to fund the 250-seat facility to the tune of £90,000 a year – a figure pegged at that level since 2008.

The grave consequences of a cut in this contribution are conveyed in the annual 2013/14 accounts and balance sheet of the charitable organisation, which were signed off last week and lodged with Company’s House.

In his report accompanying the accounts, Eastgate trustee Hugh Seymour reveals that his board had so far received no written guarantee of continued core funding from SBC beyond the current year (2014/15).

“Planning ahead is challenging in the current financial climate where the charity is dependent on core funding from local government,” he states.

“In the current climate, a guarantee of future core funding for a further year cannot be obtained in advance – the charity’s survival is very much dependent on this funding.”

The accounts for the 12 months to March 31 show that, for a second successive year, the Eastgate recorded a trading deficit – although the level of loss was down on the previous year.

Income of £470,852 was marginally outstripped by total expenditure of £474,272 (including £391,000 in operating costs) to give a deficit on the year of £3,420.

When a write-down of £12,583 for asset depreciation is taken into account, the annual deficit topped £16,003 – compared to a loss of £35,000 the previous year.

Income from ticket sales and the hire of the facilities fell from £198,453 to £177,943 over the year – a shortfall partly offset by a healthy increase in sales generated at the bar and café – up from £99,908 to £117,943.

Management and administration costs rose from £60,884 in 2013 to £65,003.

The report acknowledges the role of volunteers who supplement the efforts of the Eastgate’s eight-strong paid workforce.

“The use of volunteers in the day-to-day running of trading activities and production assistance has been invaluable,” says Mr Seymour. “During the year to March 31, the number of hours of voluntary work was estimated at 5,000 which equates to £35,000 worth of donated service.

“The board of trustees recognises the hard work of both volunteers and employees and is grateful for the dedication of all those involved.”

And Mr Seymour stresses: “The board and employees are working very hard to increase attendances while containing expenditure at a viable level.”