George Osborne hopes the tax scheme will revive and support regional theatre (Credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
This month the government initiative providing tax relief for theatre comes into effect. Touring productions can apply for 25% relief, and non-touring performance a 20% tax credit.
A tour of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia will be one of the first productions to benefit from the scheme; the tour, launching in January 2015, is a joint venture between English Touring Theatre and Theatre Royal Brighton Productions.
George Osborne, speaking ahead of the initiative’s launch at Theatre Royal Brighton, said of the tax scheme: ‘Regional productions have sadly been in decline for many years, and that’s come and gone regardless of the Arts Council budget, but I hope this [tax initiative] will revive regional theatre and revive touring productions so that we have the great success of the West End, which has probably never been more successful than it is today, but we also have great successes around the regions.’
A new three-year initiative called greenhouse has been launched to develop contemporary theatre and its audiences in the south east and east of England. Over three years, greenhouse will invest £420,000 into 30 projects.
The scheme, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England, is being led by house, an organisation which curates and underwrites a programme of around 20 contemporary theatre productions each year for their network more than 125 venues.
This year has seen greenhouse seed-fund ten projects with over £50,000, awarding grants between £3,000 and £8,000 to projects. The ideas put forward for investment had to involve a partnership between a theatre-maker and a venue. The projects chosen for investment were selected by a panel of theatre industry professionals.
The first ten greenhouse projects include: Root Theatre bringing an emerging writer to her home town Gillingham to explore ideas for a new play about the town with the support of new venue LV21; South Street in Reading working with artists based in the town to create a piece for the recently decommissioned Reading Prison; and Take the Space is going to Norden Farm Arts Centre in Maidenhead to work with a boxing club and local Quakers for ideas to develop their new play, White Feather Boxer.
Richard Kingdom, greenhouse project manager says: ‘There’s no shortage of theatre being made, venues to present it or people to see it, and yet theatre-makers struggle to get bookings, programmers tell us that they can’t find suitable work and attracting an audience is everyone’s biggest challenge.
‘This is where greenhouse begins. We are seed-funding new pieces of theatre that respond to the ambitions of the theatre-makers as well as the venues and connect with people that they might ultimately hope to speak to as an audience.’