ARTS organisations have been told of the severe funding cuts they face over the next four years.

They had been nervously anticipating the reductions from the Government’s spending review, which was expected to include budget cuts of anything between 25 and 40 per cent to Arts Council England.

It provides funding for Colchester’s Mercury Theatre, Colchester Arts Centre and Firstsite.

Arts Council England confirmed arts organisations will face cuts of 14.9 per cent between 2011 and 2015.

The harshest blow will be dealt during the first financial year of 2011/2012, when 6.9 per cent cuts will be implemented.

The Mercury has taken the biggest hit, receiving £57,283 less than the £830,181 it was given this year.

Firstsite has seen its funding fall from £662,869 to £617,131, while the Arts Centre, has seen its grant drop £8,168 to £110,204.

Adrian Grady, executive director of Colchester’s Mercury Theatre, thanked the Arts Council for its rapid decision, but added: “The 6.9 per cent cut in funding for the years 2011/12, together with possible settlements from Colchester Council and Essex County Council, represents a major challenge to the Mercury but we are determined to maintain our core work both on the stage and in the community.”

He added: “We are doing all we can to maintain our core work on the stage and in the community; regrettably this will include a reduction in our number of employees. Until we know our overall funding for 2011/12 we can’t give any more details.”

Anthony Roberts, director at Colchester Arts Centre, said: “I am relieved because the Arts Council cut was 29.6 per cent so they have managed to protect the front line service to some extent.

“It is too difficult to say what will be affected because our income streams are variable and it may be we have to have a more commercial edge to the programme until we can find another stream that will allow us to do the more expensive things.”

Wayne Warner, commericial director at Firstsite added: “Firstsite was aware the Arts Council cuts were imminent.

“Like any business, we continually review our financial position and we recognise there will be tough choices to makes over the coming months.”