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English theatres get record funding boost
Theatres have received substantial new investment from the Arts Council of England, with an extra £25 million going to 194 organisations.

The announcement marks the largest increase ever in public funding for English theatre. The Arts Council said marked a turning point in the fortunes of the sector and would lead to more and better quality theatre for more people.

The new cash follows a rigorous review of the whole theatre sector, which included some tough choices about where the money would go.

The extra funds increase the current theatre budget of £40 million to £70 million by 2003/04, reflecting growth of 72 percent, and including £5 million of additional funding from existing budgets. Many organisations will receive increases above 30 percent and some will receive four or five times more than their current grant.

Producing theatres and touring companies will be the major beneficiaries.

Announcing the new funding, Gerry Robinson, Chairman of the Arts Council, said: "Last year we said that theatre was on the edge of crisis and that £25 million was needed to pull it back from the brink. Today we are providing that £25 million.

"But this is not just about more money," he said. "We all know that change is needed, but I truly believe that, after some tough years, there is a fresh spirit of creativity and a real sense of a new generation of talented people ready to emerge."

He promised that the investment would give creative people in theatre greater artistic freedom and would make "a huge difference to the many thousands of people who enjoy the experience of live theatre".

He added: "It is now up to those working in theatre to deliver."

Stephen Daldry, professional director and a member of the Arts Council’s theatre committee, said: "Subsidised theatre is the source of so much creativity in this country, and is incredibly important for nurturing talented writers, directors and actors. These new funds promise to once again encourage aspirations, innovation and creativity, to give another whole generation the opportunity to flourish."

Actor Tony Robinson, who also sits on the theatre committee, said: "For years the people who work in theatre have provided a hidden subsidy – doing it because they are committed to theatre, but coping with inadequate funding which gave them very little room for innovation and development. I am confident that the theatre community will respond very positively to the opportunities that this new investment creates, by enhancing the conditions under which performers work, and that there will be more theatre of the highest quality for audiences of all ages."

Thu Mar 22 2001 (5:46:59 PM)