The state of theatre

MaskExit pursued by George Osborne

A tax break for theatre was an unexpected component of the so-called “autumn statement” or mini-budget yesterday. There will be a consultation next year on corporation tax relief for new commercial theatre productions, including touring versions. The Government said the move recognised “unique value that the theatre sector brings to the UK economy”.

Writers’ Guild general secretary Bernie Corbett commented: “The coalition government has spent the past three years skinning and gutting Arts Council England, so that all subsidised theatre has had to cope with massive cuts, with the knowledge that there is worse to come. Even Little Orphan Annie would choke on the thought that George Osborne has changed his spots.

“In reality, the money that has been taken away from innovative and community-based new writing is to be recycled into big-business theatre, to enable it to compete more ruthlessly with all these awful local reps and studios that have somehow survived (so far). Doubtless it will be eagerly accepted, to the benefit of proprietors and shareholders – at least, until they start to wonder why the supply of great new writing, previously supported by ACE, has begun to dry up.”

If approved, the tax breaks will take effect in April 2015 – one month before the next general election.


This interesting take appears on  How can I talk about theatre without inspiring everyone to cut their own throat?

Theatre’s very important for the UK economy because London’s West End is a tourist attraction.  You know what it’s like: shows you can see on Broadway, in Toronto, in Sydney; shows you’ve seen as feature film; revivals and heritage shows.  It’s such big business now that film producers have started to insist on having stage rights too: in their eyes, it’s not just another income stream, but also another form of marketing their film.

Outside the West End, regional theatres and independent producers produce what they can that will attract subsidy or community funding or an Arts Council.  The good news is that lots of ‘real’ theatre is still happening; the bad news is that we’ve got to thank passionate people who get little reward for it.

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