Payday for puppets as marionettes get their taxes back in Norwich

By Culture24 Staff | 21 May 2009
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A picture of a pair of puppets

(Above) The Norwich Puppet Theatre has notched a lucrative tax rebate

A 30-year-old Anglian Puppet Theatre which lost vital Government funding last year has secured a £35,000 reprieve after resolving a decade-long battle with the taxman.

The popular Norwich Puppet Theatre used a loophole for volunteer-managed cultural organisations to win a VAT rebate on ticket sales dating back to 1990. Initially lodged in 1998, their claim had been denied by legislation limiting the backdating of claims to a maximum of three years, but a House of Lords ruling last year quashed the restriction.

A picture of a church and theatre in snow

The claim was originally lodged in 1998

Theatre Board Chair Nic Hopkins said the timing of the news was "perfect". "This money has been outstanding for nearly ten years," he argued, trumpeting a string of sold-out recent shows and planned classes and summer schools at the venue. "We embarked on a mission to get what we were entitled to. At last the Government has agreed to pay up."

A picture of the darkened inside of a theatre

Bosses at the NPT said they were on a "mission"

Staff at the Theatre, a charitable trust run from the Grade I-listed St James' Church in Norwich with the goal of "furthering the art of puppetry", have been forced to explore various avenues of funding after the Arts Council withdrew a grant for the site in February 2008.

A 150-seat auditorium, 50-seat studio and exhibition gallery feature at the NPT, currently aided by sources including the local County and City Councils and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

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