Liverpool’s Everyman theatre has scrapped its in-house repertory company after it put a “strain” on funding that took the venue to “to a tipping point”.
The venue revived its resident cast of actors in 2016 after a gap of 25 years.
The Everyman and sister venue the Liverpool Playhouse have now been removed from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio funding scheme while they come up with a new business model.
But they will continue to receive the same £1.65m annual funding from ACE.
The Everyman became famous in the 1970s for its rep company, which launched the careers of actors like Bill Nighy, Julie Walters, Pete Postlethwaite and Sir Anthony Sher.
The theatre was rebuilt at a cost of £27m in 2014, and revived its rep company two years later – decades after the system died out in most venues.
A rep company is an in-house group of actors employed by a theatre.
In 2017, artistic director Gemma Bodinetz was named best director at the UK Theatre Awards and the company won the innovation award at The Stage Awards.
But the Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust, which runs the Everyman and Playhouse, has now been forced to ditch the idea once more.
“The innovation of a company was artistically celebrated and supported by all partners but has taken the trust to a tipping point from which it needs to step back to ensure future resilience,” a statement said.
“The new model was a bold experiment but we underestimated the strain on our resources: impacting staff well-being, box office income, production costs and fundraising.”
The trust’s executive director Deborah Aydon stepped down in September.
Actor David Morrissey has also left the board, as has its chair, Michael Mansfield QC. However, a spokeswoman for the theatres said those departures were not related to the recent difficulties.
Morrissey is too busy with filming commitments to continue serving on the board, she said, while Mansfield is representing a group of victims and families of the Grenfell Tower fire.
‘Business as usual’
A spokeswoman said it was “business as usual” at the two theatres as they stage their Christmas shows and prepare for next year’s line-up.
The Everyman’s 2019 season will include a new production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, played by Liam Tobin, who was a member of the rep company for both years.
Arts Council England’s Laura Dyer said: “We have agreed to the request from Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust to come out of the National Portfolio.
“We will continue to fund the organisation with the same level of investment while they take the time to review their business model and make essential changes over the next year.
“We have agreed this exceptional course of action because of the organisation’s strategic significance nationally and locally and because of their important work with and for the communities, artists and audiences of Merseyside.”
Liverpool City Council’s director of culture Claire McColgan said: “Theatres continually evolve and adapt to changing circumstances, and this is merely the latest stage in their ongoing journey.
“It is absolutely certain that that they will remain at the heart of Liverpool’s thriving cultural scene.”