Kingston's Liberal Democrats announced a potential funding lifeline to the Rose Theatre in Kingston yesterday (June 21).

In a statement posted to the Kingston Lib Dem's website, a spokesperson said that the council was looking into "a new arrangement that sees funding remain" for The Rose Theatre (see below) and would be coordinating with the theatre's management accordingly.

The Rose's continued operation was placed in jeopardy earlier this year after Kingston Council (RBK), which is controlled by a Lib Dem majority, revealed plans to scale back its funding of the well-liked arts venue.

Back in May, RBK said that due to recent cuts to its own budget, it would provide £531,000 in funding for The Rose over the next three years, including £265,000 for this financial year, but would make no commitment for funding beyond that.

Those plans prompted the management at The Rose to issue a statement seen by the Comet which reflected that "withdrawal of council funds would place great uncertainty around the future of these and other programmes from which the people of Kingston benefit directly."

However, the statement posted by the Lib Dems Thursday could lead to the council reversing its previous position on winding down funding for The Rose.

In it, Lib Dem Councillor Andreas Kirsch, Portfolio Holder for Community and Governance at RBK, suggested that local government funding could remain intact, thereby guaranteeing the Rose's continued operation after the current contract expires.

Cllr Kirsch said:

"The Liberal Democrats worked very hard to bring The Rose to Kingston in the first place. We see the theatre as a great asset to the borough and remain committed to it.

"With the current contract coming to an end in nine months, we will take this opportunity to negotiate a new arrangement with The Rose that sees funding remain, but takes into account the financial challenges we face and places community benefits at its core, to ensure that cultural opportunities are available across the borough.

"I am looking forward to negotiating a new deal with the theatre in the spirit of partnership."

In response, The Rose's Chief Executive Robert O'Dowd said that he welcomed the coming discussions and hoped they would cement a future for the theatre in Kingston.

"I welcome the commitment to financial support for the future of The Rose," Mr O'Dowd said.

"I am looking forward to constructive discussions in a partnership to secure the future," he added.

To view the full statement, go to: