Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

City of Dreams

Theatr Iolo , , June-29-93
THEATRE-IN-EDUCATION in Wales, praised as Europe's finest, is being starved of Government cash.
Wales is unique in Britain in having theatre-in-education companies in all eight counties, established in the 1970s and regarded as a model system.
The excitement of bilingual live performance has come to 40,000 children via 1,500 performances a year, thanks to the partnership between the Welsh Arts Council, regional arts associations and local authorities.
The shows have been provided free and are a versatile aid to teaching. For children in rural or deprived areas it may be their only glimpse of theatre.
But Government-induced funding cuts threaten its future. Theatre-in-Education (TIE) companies have lost 1m in public funding across Britain this year, and two Welsh TIE companies may shut. At best they will produce a reduced and inferior service.
Equity, the actors' union, has launched a campaign In Wales calling on concerned parents to write to Welsh Secretary John Redwood to restore lost funding.
In South Glamorgan, Theatr Iolo lost 49,365 in core funding this spring when the county council was forced to slash 5m from its education budget, prompted by central Government spending restrictions.
Theatr Iolo, which has toured five shows a year to schools since 1987, now faces the prospect of charging schools for some shows previously offered free.
In Mid Glamorgan, Spectacle Theatre lost half its income when the county council slashed 63,700 in county council grants.
The 14-year-old company is preparing its latest production, The Shakespeare Factory, a play which introduces the Bard's plots to secondary school students, reinforcing the national curriculum.
For the first time it will charge schools 350 for each day of performance and workshops. Cash-strapped schools faced with tough choices may decide they cannot afford the service.
"Schools have been very interested in the show, but only four schools out of 20 have confirmed a booking," says Dave Lynn of Spectacle.
More Welsh companies could be hit next year. Theatre West Glamorgan fears its TIE funding will be cut.
A report by HM Inspectors of Schools praises Welsh theatre-in-education for making a "significant contribution to the educational and cultural experience of many children."
Mr Cerri Morse, head teacher at Penrhys Junior School in Tylorstown in the Rhondda, is among many teachers who value the service. Many of his pupils' families rely on income support and could not afford trips to the theatre.
"We rely heavily on Spectacle Theatre to introduce our children to the performing arts," he says.
Sir Anthony Hopkins has joined Equity's TIE campaign.
Actress Emma Thompson says, "This is just a further cutting away of our commitment to the arts in this country, and from the people who need them most."

Reviewed by: Nicole Sochor

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