Kent retired as a consequence of Arts Council, Local Council and Brent Council cuts to the theatre's budget. His decision received wide coverage and stimulated debate about the Coalition's attitude to the arts in general and its reliance on philanthropy rather than national and local government funding, as well as the role of the Tricycle Theatre in particular.
Brent Council's Minutes for its January meeting records Kent's swansong: on the Tricycle's contribution:
Nick Kent spoke to the meeting referring to having worked in the borough since 1984. He expressed his love of Brent and his passion for the Tricycle Theatre. The theatre was housed in a relatively small building but undertook many activities. He stated that since 1984, 4.5 million people had visited the theatre as audiences, most of which were from the local area and over 36 million people from around the world had seen productions that had begun at the Tricycle Theatre. This translated into audiences of around 185,000 a year with many dignitaries also visiting the theatre. Nick Kent stated that the theatre employed 19 full time staff and 57 part time staff and 50% of the front of house staff came from Brent. The work of the theatre was designed to promote community spirit and it was proud to represent the borough. He felt the most important work the theatre undertook was with children and young people. The Council grant last year of £218,000 was wholly spent on activities for young people and amounted to half the total cost of the programme. The activities carried out each year involved about 40,000 children, with many being helped to learn English through drama and art. Nick Kent stated that the theatre attracted £3.3 million into the area and given his role he had been asked by Brent and Camden Councils to get involved in the regeneration of the area and it had been a role he was proud to take onThe report going before the Council for approval states:
Conferring the title of Honorary Freedom of the Borough is the highest honour that the Council can bestow and so should not be taken lightly. However, it is considered that the retirement of Nick Kent provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate his time at the Tricycle Theatre during which he has placed the theatre on the nation and international map out of proportion to its modest 235 seat size. One of the UK's longest serving and most respected artisticdirectors, he has run the theatre for 28 years and built it into a successful theatre known particularly for its political plays and culturally diverse work.