Issue: How can we get the government to believe in theatre and are therefore worth supporting?

Convener(s): Charlotte Smith 

Participants: Zoe Klinger, Cat Loriggion, Jaimie, Matthew, Jon Spooner, Erica Whyman, Ed Coliere, Graham

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

 Arts Council, Government, …

  • ACE – poor job on lobbying for government funds on theatre’s behalf
    • better people;
    • outsourcing
    • failed in message
    • take responsibility more
  • ACE – are charged with delivering the government policy
    • But they are also creating the policy – so should lobby on our behalf
    • They should listen to the makers more, instead of being inaccessible
  • More tax breaks for private investors (though we would be in trouble if government saw this as a way to further reduce subsidy)
  • Reassess national funding on a local level. Lobby local government to fund their arts centres. Not just fad funding, but longterm.
  • Divert tax payers money away from paranoid foreign policy: Less Guns More Theatre


  • Problem with elitist perception of theatre within general public consciousness. – is this true?
  • Politicians should come to see more
  • How can we change this perception of elitism?
  • Many people don’t engage because of the idea it ‘wont be for them’
  • Create loyalty amongst potential and actual audience (brand awareness) to venues / companies / theatre makers

 Theatre makers take action, developing the audience, …

  • Personal responsibility of the artists to promote work effectively (break through elitist perception
  • Dishonesty at the highest level as to why arts matters / dishonesty at lowest level in terms of promoting as there is a fear of underselling
  • This is a dishonest approach to the audience / government by marketing collateral and by proposals for funding.
  • Theatre is for anyone but not everyone (eclectic niche market)
  • Stop comparing it to theatre or football
  • Must find new ways to define itself

 Theatre is an asset within the community

  • Focus on regeneration – House prices can be augmented by having a theatre in the area – even if homeowner doesn’t go – they get the inherent value in having a theatre in the neighbourhood!
  • Funds available to build swanky building – but insufficient funding for the programming.
  • Education and workshops are good way to demonstrate quantitative value – more so than being able to understand the value of a production (its quality)

 Economic conflict:

  • Subsidising short run, experimental innovative theatre is absolutely necessary – innovative productions – risk taking – is important for progress of theatre,
  • Invariably it is impossible to recoup the initial production investment through a short run that has limited brand awareness / pulling power to ensure levels of audience attendance. (no big star long run formula that enables commercial theatre to prosper)


  • Will emphasis be on sport rather than arts (another battle) – funding being no longer a popular way to spend tax payers’ money?