Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive • Quotes • Arts Council Irresponsibility • 2008

The Bush Theatre pub (until October 2011) on the corner of Goldhawk Road and Shepherd's Bush Green.

The Bush Theatre (until October 2011) on the corner of Goldhawk Road and Shepherd’s Bush Green [Wikimedia]

‘For thirty-five years, The Bush Theatre has discovered, developed and presented distinctive playwrights, whose work gives an extraordinary account of contemporary Britain and our changing world. Arts Council England’s proposed cut would seriously diminish the theatre’s capacity to serve playwrights, the wider theatre community, and audiences, present and future.’

From the open letter to the Arts Council from playwrights including Tanika Gupta, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, David Hare, Neil LaBute, Christopher Hampton and Michael Frayn, David Edgar, Caryl Churchill, Peter Gill, Terry Johnson, Sir Arnold Wesker, Nicholas Wright, Sharman MacDonald, Catherine Johnson, and Gregory Burke.

“I’m just not sure what the Arts Council thinks it’s doing. Are they simply threatening this to give [The Bush] a shake? Do they want them to downsize? Wipe them out? Surely not. Of course, to lose The Bush would be appalling. The idea, on the other hand, that the Government wants to fund ‘excellence’ is great, but the obvious question then is who gets to decide what’s excellent and what’s not? What’s really scary is the idea that the Arts Council as it’s currently composed will make those judgments itself. That’s terrifying.” Director Thea Sharrock, Evening Standard

“When the Arts Council was first set up it had a lot of actors and directors on the board. Now everything is organised by suits. It is ridiculous attacking places like The Orange Tree and Exeter Northcott; these are the successful people putting on good work.” Actor Richard Briers, Observer

“My local theatre, the Northcott in Exeter, has only just reopened, and suddenly they’re going to close it. It’s a fantastic regional theatre and the Arts Council have said so on previous occasions. It’s important to me that I can take my children to see Shakespeare and Chekhov, the pantomime and children’s shows. It’s a vital part of their education. I think all the children in the south west deserve that. I’m baffled by the cuts. I don’t think there’s been a proper process followed, and I don’t think giving theatres five weeks over Christmas to launch objections is a decent way to behave. I think that’s why so many people at that [Young Vic] meeting felt so angry. It was like they’d been mugged.’ Actress Caroline Quentin, Observer

“The sums that the Arts Council is threatening to withdraw from small theatres are peanuts in their overall budget but of course catastrophic for the theatres involved. Given that the overall budget for the arts was higher than expected, these proposals appear to be penny-pinching madness. A cut to the already underfunded [Orange Tree] would mean a cut to training, a cut to new work and a cut for the theatre’s pioneering rediscovery of overlooked plays from the past.” Orange Tree Artistic Director Sam Walters, Evening Standard

“Derby Playhouse has played an important role in my life. It provided me with valuable experience, first as a technician and then as a performer, and has helped shape my career. I am determined to do all I can to ensure Derby Playhouse remains open for future generations of performers and theatregoers.” Actor and Property Developer Jay, Derby Playhouse website

‘…the first thing I’d do is to insist that the commissioned officers of the Arts Council got down with us poor bloody troops in the trenches, and by us I include both actors and audiences. I’m one of the lucky ten per cent who work most of the time, in both fringe and main-stream, yet I have never encountered a single representative, not even in the bar, certainly not back-stage. If they’re our guardians and keepers then where are they? Of course we need proven administrators to regulate the successful dispensing of government funding, but good art is not produced just by administrators, and it should not be solely judged by them either.’ Actor and Writer Michael Simkin, The Times

“We’ve been told our audiences are too small, and yet we sold 70 per cent of available tickets in the 2007 festival, the first under new management. If they want to make a case against us, make an honest one. And giving everybody 18 working days over Christmas in which to cobble together a response is madness.” Jonathan Best, artistic director of Queer Up North, the Manchester-based gay and lesbian festival, The Times

“[The cuts] seem entirely illogical. How can you justify cutting such small amounts of money to vital community theatres?” Producer Nica Burns, The Times

“[The scale and speed of the cuts is] irresponsible. Remove established companies in one go and you put regional theatre’s infrastructure in particular at risk. The effect is immediate.” Arts consultant Jodi Myers, The Times

The Passmore Edwards Library Shepherds Bush, now the home of the Bush Theatre

The Passmore Edwards Library Shepherds Bush, now the home of the Bush Theatre [Wikimedia]


Originally published 16-01-08

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