100% Arts Council Cut to Yellow Earth Theatre

On the 30th March, Yellow Earth, Britain’s only revenue funded East Asian theatre company received a 100% cut from the Arts Council. This devastating blow means that the company which has been in existence for 16 years faces an uncertain future and a real prospect of having to close.

The Arts Council cut comes at a time when more artistic links and understanding need to be forged between Britain and the emerging markets of East Asia and when statistics show that the Chinese are the fastest growing minority ethnic group in Britain. No new British East Asian arts organisations that applied for the National Portfolio Funding were successful.

Yellow Earth has always punched above its weight, producing midscale work on a small scale budget. Yellow Earth’s current production of Why the Lion Danced was a sell out national tour playing to delighted audiences ranging in age from 4 years to 84 years. The company’s work has ranged from a bilingual version of King Lear for the RSC’s Complete Works Festival which toured China and the UK to Running the Silk Road by Paul Sirett, which played at the Barbican in London and toured nationally with a mixed cast of British actors and actors from The Beijing Opera School

The company’s education and outreach work has a long and successful history of working in schools delivering Chinese and East Asian related workshops to primary and secondary school ages, as well as extensive work in museums such as the British Museum First Emperor exhibition creating an interactive gallery experience for over 4,000 students and their teachers. Most recently the company has tendered and been awarded the contract to produce a new Chinese ‘lascar’ role for the new permanent gallery at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Kumiko Mendl, Artistic Director said: The Arts Council has championed diversity as a core part of its funding policy for many years. This cut represents an abrupt reversal of that policy. Naturally we are very disappointed with the Arts Council’s decision. We will be consulting with our partners to see how we can secure Yellow Earth’s future and ensure British East Asians are not left without an artistic voice and platform.’

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