Monday, January 07, 2008

Attacking Arts Council cuts

In The Times, director Holly Kendrick speaks out against the withdrawal of the Arts Council grant to the National Student Drama Festival.

Manwhile, in The Guardian, Guild President David Edgar attacks the cut in The Bush Theatre's grant by 40%.
From its tiny theatre on Shepherd's Bush Green, the Bush not only presents, tours and transfers new plays by upcoming and established writers (as it has done for over 30 years), but its unique skills and experience enables it regularly to risk putting on playwrights' first plays.

Its literary department reads 1,000 scripts a year and reports on them to their authors, distributes bursaries, mounts workshops, commissions playwrights. This winter, two Bush plays by unknown writers (Jack Thorne and Abbie Spallen) play off-Broadway. It is this work - the seedcorn of British playwriting in the future - which would be threatened if this proposed cut is implemented.

1 comment:

  1. Monday's Guardian 07/08. Same subject, different company.

    Monday Jan 7th 2008
    The Guardian

    After being challenged with the case of “poor old Eastern Angles”, culture secretary James Purnell defines excellence as where people “have their meanings shaken up and think about the world in a different way” (Interview, January 5th). We agree about excellence being the principal criterion of any funding agreement. Nothing should excuse sloppy or patronising work. But it has to be put in context. You can’t just put Shopping and Fucking in a village hall and expect people to come and be all shook up. Neither should you assume the village audience will only want rural folk tales. The point about the arts in rural areas is that, because they are in their own venue (not yours), once you have secured the trust of your audience, you can take them on the journey they didn’t know they wanted to go on.

    The Arts Council proposes to cut our funding by over £100,000 a year yet states no concerns about the quality of our work, just that we are “sub-regional”. East Anglia is sub-regional? Next financial year we should be taking readings by African writers across the region in partnership with Tiata Fahodzi, as well as developing a play about GM crops; producing the new play we have commissioned about hormonal teenagers, I Caught Crabs in Walberswick, from acclaimed new writer Joel Horwood (who first saw our plays as a child) to tour schools; exploring the martyrdom connection between St Edmund and the fall of communism; and finishing up in village halls with The Guardian’s own Craig Taylor, who’s new play, based on his book Return to Akenfield, features immigrant workers and supermarkets. It’s all original, has a contemporary edge and is designed for rural audiences who trust our ability to deliver excellence in a big van.

    But we can only do a fraction of that if the Arts Council isn’t prepared to have its own meanings shaken up.

    Ivan Cutting,
    Artistic Director
    Eastern Angles


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