A Birmingham theatre has been thanked by the producer of a controversial musical for continuing to support the show despite a decision by the Arts Council to pull funds for a regional tour.
Jon Phoday, the producer of Jerry Springer: The Opera, said the decision by the Arts Council, which leaves the nationwide tour hanging in the balance as its production company looks for private funding, was terrible.
He said is was unfortunate that the "arts establishment" could not support a cashstricken performance which was backed by a number of regional theatres like the Birmingham Hippodrome.
The show sparked protests and death threats from Christian fundamentalists over its depictions of Jesus, God and the amount of swear words it contains.
Radical group Christian Voice pledged to picket all performances, causing 30 per cent of theatres to pull out of the planned autumn tour.
Mr Phoday said the production company only applied to the Arts Council when cash-flow problems became apparent after arrangements were made for a new regional tour, which starts next year.
The Arts Council's decision to withdraw backing has sparked accusations that it has simply bowed to pressure from Christian groups.
Mr Phoday said: "I have got no idea what has happened beyond the facts but I just wonder whether the controversy has caused members of the committee of the Arts Council to decide that this is something that they did not want to be involved with because it would cause them trouble.
"This show has helped open up theatres to a lot of people who would not usually attend them and for this to happen is terrible.
"If there was ever something that deserves arts funding this is it. The creative team behind the show have been very supportive and we have received a lot of support from Birmingham, so we had hoped that the arts establishment would have helped.
"Both the writers of the musical are from the Birmingham area. The theatre has been very supportive and we are certainly grateful to it.
"We are looking forward to coming to the city. This is a good show that should not be stopped by a small amount of people who have not seen it."
The production company, Avalon, is now attempting to secure private backing.
Rob Macpherson, marketing manager of the Hippodrome, said "questions would be asked" if a popular musical such as Jerry Springerwas not staged in Birmingham. He also said the theatre would continue to market the show.
He said: "We do feel that it is important that things have a chance to be seen by a regional audience. We also think it is important that big musicals are performed at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
"This musical was very popular in its London shows and was watched by two-anda-half million people on the BBC.
"We will continue to put the show in our brochure for autumn and winter and we will also be selling tickets."
The Hippodrome was one of a handful of theatres across the country which agreed to stage the play, following threats of picketing from Christian Voice.
The Arts Council move has been compared to a decision by the Birmingham Rep Theatre last December to cancel Behzti, a play about rape and murder in a Sikh temple, after violent protests by members of the Sikh community.
A spokeswoman from the Arts Council West Midlands said there was "no artistic judgement" in the decision to pull the funding.
"We felt it was too commercial to deserve funding," she added.