Phill Jupitus and Paul Heaton get behind Save Red Ladder

Phill Jupitus and Paul Heaton

Phill Jupitus and Paul Heaton - Credit: Archant

A Leeds-based theatre company is under threat because of a drastic cut in Arts Council funding

A campaign has been launched to save a Leeds-based theatre company which has lost its Arts Council funding. Early donations totalling £5,000 have already been made and a Twitter campaign has already won more than 1,000 followers.

Red Ladder, one of the country’s leading radical theatre companies formed 46 years ago, has campaign backing from comedian Phill Jupitus and musician Paul Heaton. ‘Red Ladder is that rare thing within UK theatre – a company that has successfully continued to produce theatre that is energetic, entertaining and angry at a time when it needs to be angry,’ said Phill, who starred in Red Ladder’s 2012 show, Big Society. ‘But more importantly, consistently produces work that speaks to the wide majority of people who don’t consider themselves theatre goers.

‘Their down to earth approach to the arts is exactly why this small but mighty company should continue it’s vital role in the cultural landscape of Leeds, of Yorkshire, of the UK and the world! Red Ladder’s work is important, and Red Ladder is important. To lose them at a point in British history where the fight against everyday inequality and injustice is being lost would be a genuine tragedy.’

Paul Heaton, formerly of The Housemartins and The Beautiful South, said: ‘I’m behind this because people need theatre, people need the arts. We must not let culture become the sole domain of the haves.’

Hull Truck theatre founder Mike Bradwell added: ‘Red Ladder have made real, bold, popular theatre for over 40 years and taken it to hundreds of thousands of people, especially those who don’t like theatre.

‘They are political, they are provocative and they are necessary - even more so now than ever. It is a scandal they have been cut. We should all fight this decision.’

Nick Stimson, writer of Red Ladder’s show Promised Land, said a healthy society and a healthy theatre needed its awkward customers - theatre companies who ask difficult questions, whose work is driven by commitment and who speak for those whose voices are not heard elsewhere. ‘Red Ladder is just such a company. Its continued existence is essential,’ he added.

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The company’s only other current core grant is an annual £5,000 from Leeds City Council.

To find out more about the campaign go to or donate directly via