The fight to save and support local theatres across the UK was given a huge boost today with the launch of new campaign My Theatre Matters!
Spearheaded by theatre trade association the Theatrical Management Association, actors’ union Equity and industry publication The Stage, the new campaign will help give theatregoers the opportunity to shout about how important their theatre is to them.
Speaking about My Theatre Matters!, which was launched in response to devastating cuts in local government funding, Brian Attwood, Editor of The Stage, said: “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. One need only look to see what has happened in Taunton, Sheffield, Newcastle and even in Westminster to see that this is a national problem, facing theatres up and down the country. 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 new campaign aims to empower theatre fans by giving them the means to make their voices heard. Postcards to be sent to council leaders will be available at theatres, as will badges to show support. Adverts will be seen in programmes across the length of the country thanks to publishers John Good, while online the campaign can be joined at www.mytheatrematters.com and followed on Twitter and Facebook. Performers will also be lending their support and publicising the cause at curtain calls.
Rachel Tackley, TMA President, commented: “It seems theatres are increasingly seen by decision makers as a luxury, not the beating heart of a community providing benefits for everyone from cradle to grave. Ask a Councillor what they associate with the word ‘theatre’ and most would probably say words associated with fun, entertainment and enjoyment. That’s no bad thing, but as the purse strings get tighter and tighter, they need to know how much their communities value the economic, social and educational impact of their investment in local theatres.
“My Theatre Matters! is designed to help real people tell their stories about how important their local theatre is to their life, and help them be heard. If we all shout loud enough, we can ensure theatres get the investment they need to play their full role in safeguarding and revitalising our communities in these challenging times.”
The Society of London Theatre, which runs this site, is also supporting the campaign, as are organisations including the Independent Theatre Council, Creu Cymru, Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, Theatres Trust and Dance UK.