OUTSIDE EDGE / The good burghers of Hammersmith
Friday 18 February 1994
Three years ago the council was rate-capped and the cuts were passed on to the Lyric; it built up large debts and will close on 1 April unless pounds 350,000 is raised.
The theatre has a history of support in high places but hope, this time, comes from the ground. There is enormous local support for the theatre, and people who have never given the local arts programme their full attention before are now genuinely concerned.
A local business forum has been created to support the theatre financially ('For a recent performance of Blood Wedding the local businesses' support enabled us to offer tickets at one-quarter of the normal price to local schools,' purrs Sue Storr, general manager of the Lyric) and to publicise the theatre's plight.
Shopkeepers and local people came out in force last Saturday, rattling buckets until they had collected pounds 9,000. Even the smallest shops are doing what they can. True to the spirit of the campaign, Macs Cameras, opposite the theatre, has supplied cameras and equipment free of charge for all the fund-raising events.
Local people have a lot to lose (no subsidised theatre in Hammersmith means no schools programmes, no Theatre in Education, no grass-roots venue where budding actors can learn their craft) and the whole community has rallied round. Loth to be outdone by the shopkeepers, the police turned out in uniformed force for a recent performance by the Cardboard Citizens company of an interactive play about homelessness by the homeless. Even Hammersmith and Fulham Council, not normally noted for its charity, has co-operated with the fund-raisers, allowing 'highwaymen' to collect from hapless motorists stuck in traffic on the Hammersmith Bridge.
The big money, of course, will come from those with more clout. The embattled theatre has never had any trouble attracting the stars (a typical Lyric cast-list is as impressive as any in the West End) and this Sunday the likes of Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax, Griff Rhys Jones, Maureen Lipman and Eddie Izzard will star in Alive and Kicking, a benefit cabaret at the London Palladium. Still pounds 220,000 away from their fund-raising target, the people of Hammersmith will be keeping a keen eye on the box-office.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
- 4 Tyler, The Creator says having new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was 'like waking up with herpes'
- 5 Grandmas keep accidentally tagging themselves as Grandmaster Flash on Facebook
Lauren Bacall's last ever performance on Family Guy airs in UK tonight
Fifty Shades of Grey movie: New picture of Anastasia Steele unveiled
X Factor 2014 review: Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole clashed over Rouge Kiss
Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
Doctor Who, Listen, review: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly