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Boris Johnson visits the Lyric Hammersmith (photo: David Tett)

Boris Johnson visits the Lyric Hammersmith

Mayor celebrates theatres’ success

Published 10 April 2013

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson described London theatres as a “vital component of our cultural landscape” earlier today when he visited the Lyric Hammersmith to celebrate the continued success and innovation of the capital’s venues.

The Mayor visited the West London venue following his office’s £1million funding towards the Lyric Hammersmith’s redevelopment project, which will enhance the theatre’s acclaimed educational programme with a new development and enable a major facelift to the existing building.

Johnson described himself as “thrilled” to be able to support the project, saying: “It is a cultural beacon for West London and a shining example of the continuing success our theatres have in attracting audiences and putting themselves at the heart of the community.”

Visiting the venue with Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre, the organisation behind Official London Theatre, the visit marked Johnson’s continued commitment to supporting London’s incredible theatres and celebrated the sector’s huge success over the last decade, which has seen revenue rise by 65% and attendance numbers by 21%.

Commenting on theatre’s continually record-breaking and worldwide award-winning successes, Johnson said: “The success of London theatre is down to the fantastically rich variety of programming and exciting innovations, from live screenings of productions at cinemas to performances staged outdoors or in unusual locations. At a critical time for funding, our theatres are showing real imagination in the way they attract audiences and funding and I will do all I can to support this world-beating – and vital – component of our cultural landscape.”

One way in which the Mayor plans to support theatre is by backing the introduction of a new initiative to bring theatrical and live performances to more Londoners. Circulate, a new three-year programme of outdoor performance, will take inspiration from productions such as the National Theatre’s forthcoming collaboration with site-specific theatre company Punch Drunk, The Drowned Man, to see British and international artists tour to outer London Boroughs.

Nick Starr, Executive Director of the National Theatre, said that the desire for innovative theatrical experiences was very much alive in London audiences, saying: “’London is the pre-eminent world city for theatre. This is because it combines a particular British talent, an appetite for trying new things, the vestiges of a public-service ethos, a liking for the wayward and the maverick, and a deep respect for the connection between artists and audiences.

“Elsewhere in the world, there’s a profound and ideological schism between the popular theatre and the art theatre. In London, we know we’re all part of the same organism. Last year that accounted for 14 million attendances, so we’re obviously doing something right.”

Bird echoed Starr’s sentiments, saying: “London theatre is going through a golden period, shown in the talent nominated for this month’s Olivier Awards, and advance sales have never been stronger. The Lyric Hammersmith gives a perfect example of the pivotal role theatres can play in developing our communities.”

Speaking about My Theatre Matters!, the new campaign mobilising audiences to get involved in helping to protect their local theatre’s funding, the Chief Executive called upon the public for their support, explaining: “We are inviting the public to shout about how important theatres are to their lives and their communities.”

To sign up to the campaign and to register your support, visit www.mytheatrematters.com

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