HACKNEY EMPIRE’S cutbacks look to have caused a rift between Griff Rhys Jones, one of the theatre’s board members, and its financial backers.

Popular on LondonNet

Starting in February, the east London theatre is to limp along with a much reduced schedule until late 2010, when the panto season kicks off.

“The board had no choice,” said Rhys Jones.

“The Arts Council have offered continued financial support, but only with an entire reboot. Hackney Council have advanced a small sum. Both parties wanted a change of management and a period of closure.”

That statement appears to lay the blame for the cuts at the door of the Arts Council and the local authority, but the Arts Council is having none of it.

“The degree to which the language that Griff uses clouds the issue is not helpful,” said an Arts Council spokesperson.

“We haven’t been leaning on them, it’s absolutely their decision.”

Whoever’s shout it was, the Hackney Empire faces an uncertain future, with its recent ticket sales failing to generate enough cash to avoid money troubles.