Jarvis: The Government needs to act to support our regional theatres

Dan Jarvis MP, Shadow Culture Minister, has today questioned Ed Vaizey about his lack of response to the report “In Battalions”. This week 60 theatre luminaries have written to Vaizey urging him to take the threat facing British theatre seriously following the publication of “In Battalions”, a report written by playwright, Fin Kennedy.

Earlier this year, Ed Vaizey claimed that there is “no evidence of any impact on new writing” in theatre. Rising to the challenge, playwright Fin Kennedy, contacted theatres across the country. His research has found that 62% have cancelled one or more productions since April 2012 and 54% have said that fewer new plays were being produced.

Dan said, “The Minister’s assertion that that there has been no impact on new writing has forced playwrights to undertake their own research into the damage being done to their own sector. It is clear that there is a problem and the Minister needs to acknowledge this rather than sticking his head in the sand.

He added: “The stage is one of Britain’s great success stories. People across the world flock to see our productions but it’s future depends on us nurturing new talent and supporting new writing”.

Playwright, Fin Kennedy added;

“In confining his response to simply looking at Arts Council investment which hasn't yet been cut, Mr Vaizey ignores the reality on the ground. Many theatres are experiencing multiple funding cuts from local authorities, reduced private sponsorship and reduced fees for their work. The picture is a lot more complex than Mr Vaizey's response appears to understand.

“This Government's policies are causing ongoing problems for one of Britain's most profitable and admired industries. I really had hoped my report might be the start a constructive conversation between theatre professionals and the Government. We're crying out to have a sensible conversation with them. I have requested several times that Mr Vaizey meets with a delegation of playwrights to hear first-hand how his Government's policies are affecting us. But our request has not been taken up.”