STOP THE THEATRE CLOSURES! – actors to march today from Piccadilly


ACTORS will demonstrate in the centre of London today against a wave of threatened theatre closures.

Actors in white masks will take part in today’s march, organised by the Tangram Theatre Company.

They will assemble at 1.00pm at Piccadilly Circus and march to Arts Council England headquarters in Great Peter Street, demanding that funding withdrawn from theatres is restored immediately.

A statement on Equity’s website said: ‘The following theatre organisations have been reported in the press as either being cut or axed: Quicksilver, Pop-Up, London Bubble, Union Dance, Bush, LIFT, Queer Up North, Drill Hall, Watermans, Arts and Business, Total Theatre, Compass, ETT, Lip Service, Kaos, Orange Tree, Cambridge Arts, Derby Playhouse, Bristol Old Vic, Exeter Northcott, Eastern Angles, Pride of Place Festival, Komedia, Norwich Puppet Theatre, Creative Arts East, Tara Arts, People Show, Stationhouse Opera, National Student Drama Festival, ITC, Yvonne Arnaud, Dukes Lancaster, Circus Arts Forum, Red Shift, Chisenhale, Mimika, Freehand, Komedia, Rejects Revenge, Yorkshire Women Theatre, Asian Women’s Drama Project, Birmingham Opera Company, International Workshop Festival, disability arts companies Salamander Tandem, Corali and Anjali, Chipping Norton Theatre, International Workshop Festival, Jacksons Lane.’

A march through Norwich to overturn the cuts is also due to take place on Saturday, as the opposition to theatre closures grows.

Equity spokesman Martin McGrath told News Line yesterday that some of the decisions by the Arts Council to withdraw funding from theatres were ‘very hard to understand’.

‘The most talked about theatre facing closure is probably the Exeter Northcott,’ he said.

‘The Arts Council has just been part of a team that has invested a large sum of money in refurbishing that theatre, and the week it reopened they announced they were cutting the funding to it.

‘One of the Arts Council’s aims is to promote new writing, but one of the theatres that will close because of their decisions is the Bush Theatre in west London, which is widely recognised as the leading theatre for new writers in the country.’

The Equity spokesman added that the union ‘will support any action to highlight the unfairness of the decisions that are being made.

‘Our chief concern is that, although the Arts Council has received increased funding from the government this year, they have chosen to cut a number of organisations without giving anyone a clear understanding of the criteria they have used to make those decisions.’

The Equity spokesman said the Arts Council was not allowing ‘a proper consultation with artists and practitioners in the arts to comment upon and consider the implications of these changes.

‘The Arts Council have a stated set of public aims and their decisions just don’t seem to pay any heed to these stated aims,’ he said.