A campaign entitled My Theatre Matters! has been launched to encourage support of local theatres. The initiative is being led by Equity, The Stage and Theatrical Management Association (TMA).
The Stage editor Brian Attwood says: ‘Many theatres are facing reductions, and in some cases complete cuts, in support from their local authorities. It is the single biggest threat currently facing our industry.
‘While there are many enlightened councils out there who continue to support their local theatres, we fear there will also be many who see them as an easy target at a time of cuts. We need to show that theatres aren’t an easy target, but are public services that are really valued by their audiences.’
The campaign responds to continuing funding cuts by local authorities which are having a damaging effect on regional theatres around the country. In January 2013, theatres and museums in Sheffield were hit by cuts of 20% from the city council; Newcastle City Council announced that it would stop funding theatres and arts venues in March, instead instigating a fund worth only 50% of previous financial support; and in the same month, Westminster council confirmed that it would cut all funding to the arts by 2014/5.
The My Theatre Matters! campaign can be followed via Twitter (@theatre_matters), Facebook (www.facebook.com/mytheatrematters) and their website (www.mytheatrematters.com).
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A new scheme has been launched by the Theatrical Management Association (TMA) to help local authorities sustain theatre provisions. TMA will provide advice on reducing costs and boosting income and link up organisations facing similar challenges.
Chief executive of TMA, Julian Bird said: ‘We have started to gather a database of good practice all around the UK and will happily signpost authorities to other organisations facing similar challenges so that they can find out what is working and what isn’t.’
Philip Bernays, TMA council member and chief executive of Newcastle Theatre Royal, revealed that last year savings were made of around £164,000 through communication and collaboration between 10 different organisations. He said: ‘By taking new approaches to procurement, all organisations are making major savings on their insurance costs. We have proved that there are ways of sustaining quality services by working collectively to save money.’
TMA will approach industry bodies for local government to offer their support. Funding has become one of the most pressing issues facing theatres as local authorities face making huge cuts to their budgets.
President of TMA, Rachel Tackley said: ‘We that know Local Authorities are under enormous financial pressure but there is a difference between looking to make management changes that will lead to greater value for investment and making un-strategic cuts that threaten community assets. We applaud Councils such as Coventry and Bristol that are safeguarding arts funding because they understand the value of theatre in their communities, but other authorities are also showing strong leadership by supporting arts organisations through a managed period of change. In other places the sector is coming together to work out new ways of reducing back office costs and increasing earned income.’
For more information visit tmauk.org