Huntingdon arts group looks to future

A HUNTINGDON arts organisation on the brink of folding a month ago because of council cuts is looking to the future thanks to a last-minute reprieve.

Members of Huntingdon Town Council had decided to axe all its funding for Performing Arts at the Commemoration Hall (PATCH) because of poor ticket sales and a stumbling economy.

But after members protested against the decision, councillors back-tracked and recommended at an extraordinary meeting of the leisure and community services committee earlier this month to reinstate half of last year’s funding.

It means the group are feeling ‘positive’ about the future and preparing a new programme, though one that will be reduced, warned PATCH committee chairman Linda Cullen.

“There will be a 50 per cent cut in the amount of acts that are held, because we cannot afford to hold the same number,” she said.

“We will try to do more music acts like Show Patrol, which attracted 220 people and more middle of the road acts. We had Five Star Swing in recently and there were 130 people in for that.

“We are going to do that rather than story-telling or harmonica acts that are a niche market. We are quite happy. We are positive, rather than down-beat.

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“We are coming from a position where we though it was just going to be cut completely. It is a change, but we are carrying on regardless. One door closes and another one opens.”

A series of discos for the disabled entitled Starz in Your Eyes is also expected to continue.

It was agreed in January that the council would no longer provide �21,000 towards the programme, the majority of which funds the post of programme director, currently filled by Lydia Eldridge.

But campaigners said without Ms Eldridge, PATCH which currently runs about 30 shows or events a year, would close.

Six councillors signed a motion calling for the decision to be rescinded. The council is now expected to offer �12,800 towards the 2011/12 programme. A revised budget is due to be approved by councillors on April 14.

Edward Welsh, aged 23, a PATCH volunteer and student of community arts at Peterborough, was one of the demonstrators against the cut.

He said the decision to reinstate some of the funding was good for the community. “It will bring people together,” he said.

PATCH members will be writing to the Commemoration Hall Charity appealing for a reduction in their rent and Ms Eldridge’s hours will drop from two to one day a week.

INFORMATION: An appeal has also been launched for anyone interested in becoming a Friend of PATCH or a member. To find out more go to or call 01480 455167 or 01480 388688.