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Milford Haven's Torch theatre at risk as funding gap bites

The Torch Theatre in Milford Haven
The Torch, in Milford Haven, faced tough times after Covid and a 93% county council funding cut

The future of a 50-year-old theatre is under threat after a significant cut to its funding.

The Torch, in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, is facing a £250,000 shortfall after a 93% funding cut from the county council.

Executive director Benjamin Lloyd said the theatre has faced "challenging" times due to impact of Covid-19.

Pembrokeshire council said it had taken difficult decisions to sustain services including education and social care.

The council's £150,000 cut in annual funding has contributed to an overall shortfall of £250,000 for the theatre.

Mr Lloyd insisted the authority remained a "staunch" supporter of the Torch, a mostly self-funded charity.

"However, we've seen a 93% reduction in grant funding that has been passed on due to the savage cuts that the local authority have endured in the last decade or more," he said.

"Even without the pandemic, and the resultant struggles, we were already looking at a difficult situation, and a funding gap to manage.

"Coming out of Covid, we've seen the economy change and within the arts.

"A big part of our business is cinema, and with cinema alone, we're looking at a reduction of around £100,000 in ticket revenues, let alone the secondary spend that comes with that."

Pembrokeshire council now provides £10,000 in annual funding to the theatre.

Benjamin Lloyd
Executive director Benjamin Lloyd said the theatre had lost £150,000 annual funding from the authority in recent years

The Torch also gets £454,260 from the Arts Council of Wales and £7,000 from Milford Town Council.

It is awaiting the outcome of an Arts Council of Wales investment review this month.

Mr Lloyd has launched a fundraising drive called "Caru the Torch", which means "Love the Torch".

He said he recognised there was pressure to raise ticket prices, but insisted the Torch remained "one of the most affordable and accessible theatres and arts centres in Wales".

"We have something unique in the Torch, to fight for and protect, and that's what we're going to," he said.

"What we're asking our audiences is, if you value the arts, and entertainment, then you value the Torch.

"We're asking you to support us."