Theatre in Wales

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Equity Warns Of Bleak Outlook For Welsh Theatre     

PERFORMERS' union Equity has issued a stark warning that if Welsh theatre does not see a rescue package similar to the one given to their English counterparts, its long-term future looks very bleak.
Last week the Arts Council of England distributed £25m to most of its regional theatre clients.

The money came from the £100m given to the Department of Culture Media and Sport as its share of Gordon Brown's Comprehensive Spending Review.

But Equity's national organiser for Wales, Chris Ryde, says, "The large increase to the theatres in England will result in more productions with more actors paid more money.

"In those circumstances not only will Wales not be able to compete, what incentive will there be for actors, writers and directors to work here?

"We want to see the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) determine a proper strategy as did its English counterpart.

"If this doesn't happen then within five years there will be precious little indigenous theatre to worry about."

Chairman of Presenting the Arts Group (PAG) and director of Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Janek Alexander added, "Venues are very concerned about what is happening in theatre today.

"Many theatre artists in Wales have stopped producing work altogether and those that remain struggle with ever-dwindling resources.

"The experience of the PAG membership is that it is a struggle to find enough work to fill a season.

"We have now written to the National Assembly's Culture Minister Jenny Randerson to ask her to change the way the ACW uses lottery money so Wales can begin to have a level playing field with English venues."

Mr Alexander also stated that many arts organisations maintain the ACW must pull together all its resources to tackle the fundamental problems facing the arts in Wales.

An ACW spokeswoman responded, "Theatre companies in Wales display production and touring work of consistently high artistic quality, and ACW very much looks forward to continuing its role in helping to sustain and promote this.

"ACW is currently preparing a detailed funding case for the attention of the Assembly."
The Western Mail  
web site
Hannah Jones Arts And Media Editor
Friday, March 23, 2001back



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