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GLA highlights small theatre fears

Published 26 July 2013

A new report published by the Greater London Authority (GLA) has shown that 20% of London’s smaller theatres fear for their financial future and that 75% need to significantly repair their buildings.

Centre Stage – Supporting Small Theatres In The Capital was released this week, highlighting the problems faced by the capital’s more intimate off-West End theatres and offering a selection of suggestions on how they could be tackled.

Among the suggestions made in the report, compiled by the GLA’s Economy Committee, is the appointment of an ambassador for small theatres to draw the sector together, increased collaboration with Transport for London to boost advertising and greater co-operation with West End theatres.

Through Society of London Theatre (SOLT), the organisation that represents the producers, theatre owners and managers of the major commercial and grant-aided theatres in central London, much is already done to aid the industry, from the West End to local theatres. All profits made by the company, through the TKTS ticket booth, Theatre Tokens and its other commercial ventures, are ploughed back into the industry.

The performers of the future, who may well take to the stage of London’s fringe venues, are aided with bursaries awarded to help them complete their studies, while Stage One, which is partially funded by SOLT, helps support burgeoning theatre producers, who will stage productions in many of these venues, aiding them with bursaries, apprenticeships and mentoring as they learn their trade. Similarly trade fair TheatreCraft, which will this year be staged on 22 November at the Royal Opera House, is one of the few events where 16 to 25-year-olds can learn about a career behind the scenes in theatre, helping the technicians, designers and directors of the future.

The GLA report, which is based on information from 55 of London’s theatres with 400 seats or fewer, about half of the capital’s theatres of this size, also suggests the GLA and London’s boroughs should find ways to help with funding, which has been squeezed or cut in recent years, including aid finding philanthropic support. This would be in addition to the Theatres Protection Fund set up in 2012 by the Theatres Trust to provide grants for repairs and renovations to smaller theatres, which has already been contributed to by Mamma Mia! Producer Judy Cramer and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

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