Theatre in Wales

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New Musical, New Finance & Company Reports Its Production Record

National Theatre: Comment

Six Months On Continued , National Theatre of Wales , April 19, 2024
National Theatre: Comment by Six Months On Continued The article below ended with public words by Lorne Campbell which, with the removal from view of the community site, may no longer be read:

“We must...share our power; widen our reference; demand our accountability; audit our actions.”

The entry of the National Theatre of Wales at the Charity Commission has a stamp by its name. The annual return and the accounts are recorded as being 56 and 57 days late.

At Companies House the reporting was 10 days overdue. The authority has a sliding penalty scale for lateness. Its first level is £150.

* * * *

The company has attracted commentary in three distinct areas. The most prominent has been the low level of output.

The Arts Portfolio Wales Handbook requires national companies “to ensure the development of the widest possible audiences.”

Since the cessation of the pandemic, 340 days in a year without presentation of theatre to the public has been characteristic. This is the record; theatre is there or it is not there.

On the production record of the company the directors state:

“During 2022-2023, we continued to develop dynamic supporting cross-cutting strategies...Produce a world class, cohesive, bold and accessible programme of theatre making, embodied by [sic] courageous production...”

“NTW has presented over a hundred powerful productions that are nationally significant.”

This has been covered previously in the article below 26th October which was devoted to fact-checking of public statements.

It lacks credibility at the basic level of arithmetic. 169 months have passed since the opening night of “A Good Night Out in the Valleys.” Sixteen months were taken out due to the pandemic, although the company falsely records that it performed in this period.

The directors state a new production opened every seven weeks. That this is not the case can be easily verified. The archive of the company itself declares otherwise and attests to the statement's falsity.

The responsibility of trusteeship is joint and several. The statement is signed by Sharon Gilburd but liability is shared by Yvonne Connikie, Anna Arrieta, Miguela Gonzalez, Robert Edge,Tafsila Khan, Simon Stephens, Joanne Lilford and Stephen Dimmick.

* * * *

The report, dated 28th March, is a lengthy document. Its 28 pages of text require some unpicking. The tone is one of confidence. The press release of 15th March read: “We look forward to making brilliant theatre...for the people of Wales.”
New musical theatre is promised:

“NTW will develop a new ambitious musical...directed by Joe Murphy...the aim is to tour this work to castles in Wales in 2025 with then a UK and Wales tour in 2026.”

In line with tradition the company website contains no advance notice of any theatre productions.

* * * *

The directors state “Excellent financial management continues to ensure that budgets are adhered to.”

Sources of new finance are announced. The relationship with the Arts Council of Wales continues:

“NTW is now in discussions with ACW regarding an exceptional payment of up to 25% of NTWs previous annual grant of £1,664,920.”

Government itself has already provided finance:.

"Feral Monster is sponsored by...the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is being administered by Cardiff Council."

The same source is reported. The company “is awaiting the outcome of applications to Cardiff's Shared Prosperity Fund (£250,000)” and later in the report: “this has included the award of two six figure sum Shared Prosperity Fund grants, for activity delivery in Conwy and Cardiff during 2024-25.”

* * * *

The national companies of Wales are governed by expectations of the Arts Council of Wales. The company's non-compliance with its obligations was covered a year ago below 2nd February 2023.

The range of obligations include:

“Engaging, in a meaningful way, with the artistic community in Wales.”

The directors report of “an ambitious programme of commissioning and development which engaged a range of Welsh artists from senior figures of international profile through to the brightest voices of an emergent generation.”

The senior figures of international profile are not identified. This view of the directors is not the same as that of figures who made public statements in the article below 23rd October 2023.

Roger Williams: “The company has lost a meaningful connection with the artistic community in Wales, of actors, of writers, musicians, dancers and so forth. And they seem to have become a clique. Unfortunately, once you start losing those relationships with your key sectors, you find yourself in trouble.”

Nick Davies: “They seemed to burn bridges, first with the venues...and the venues were only used if they wanted their box office systems. It created a fissure there. And then it went on. The playwrights, and at the same time, quite naturally, the audiences...There is a great tradition of actors here in Wales, and writers, and there was a gap between them and National Theatre Wales in the end.”

The company could usefully make public the senior figures of its contact.

The 28-page document contains many more elements that ask to be looked at in depth.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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