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NPO funding announcement response

Posted 4 November 2022

Today, Arts Council England (ACE) revealed its National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) grant funding plans for 2023 - 2026.

Play to the Crowd - the charity that runs Theatre Royal Winchester, Hat Fair and Playmakers - has learnt that it will no longer be a National Portfolio Organisation.

The NPO funding was a key part of the funding for Hat Fair, Winchester's annual Outdoor Arts festival.

Andrew Loretto, Hat Fair and Playmakers Director, Play to the Crowd, comments:

"This is extremely disappointing news to receive - not only for the team here at Play to the Crowd but for the hundreds of artists, performers and community participants who love to perform at the festival and the audiences in their thousands that attend.

We will take some time to reflect and discuss the situation with Arts Council England and our other stakeholders to find the best way forward.  We will find a way to ensure that some form of Hat Fair in 2023 will take place. I know that Winchester will want Hat Fair to find a way forward! We will need to look at the format and other ways to raise the income required to stage the festival. The ACE NPO grant was the largest part of the funding mix that enabled Hat Fair to happen each year. Although we won’t be funded as part of the National Portfolio, ACE are very positive about our application and are keen to work with us to find alternative funding sources."

Deryck Newland, Chief Executive of Play to the Crowd, continues:

"This is a blow and shock to us all, however we will take some time to look at the business model of the festival and explore all funding options available to us going forward. We are determined to do all that we can to ensure that Hat Fair continues in the years ahead in some way, but without ACE NPO support it becomes much more challenging. We recognise the difficult decisions that Arts Council England have had to make but this outcome is obviously extremely disappointing for us."

Hat Fair is the UK's longest running Outdoor Arts Festival and attracts audiences of over 90,000 to Winchester every year.