Right of Reply: Stephen Daldry & Ian Rickson

The director and artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre respond to an article by David Benedict
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IN RESPONSE to David Benedict's surprisingly inaccurate article ("Shopping and Funding"), we should like to point out a few major mistakes.

The Royal Court has indeed secured a five-year sponsorship arrangement with the Jerwood Foundation, in addition to a pounds 3m one-off donation towards redevelopment. But, contrary to Benedict's statement, these two agreements are not linked. Jerwood's has supported 23 productions, including Blasted and Shopping and Fucking. The Royal Court would never allow, and Jerwood's does not seek, interference in artistic policy, choice of plays or the running of the building. This is enshrined in the sponsorship agreement.

Benedict mentions other sponsorship models, but seems unaware of the details. For example, AT&T does require script approval (the Jerwood Foundation does not). The Royal Court is funded by the Arts Council for eight productions a year. The Court needs to be financially intrepid. Our existing sponsorship portfolio is well over pounds 500,000 a year from a range of sources. The Jerwood's pounds 80,000 a year represents less than 3 per cent of the theatre's turnover. The Court will not go bankrupt should any one sponsor withdraw. The arrangement with the Jerwood Foundation has always been geared towards emerging writers living in this country. We have alternative arrangements supporting other aspects of our work, eg international plays, low-price ticketing and our Young Writers Festival. The notion that by identifying sponsorship the Court intends to exclude the world of major writers is nonsense.

The Court will always respect the wishes of the playwrights. This writer's veto remains sacrosanct. The article does not reflect the positive discussions the Court has had with many writers about sponsorship and subsidy. Despite our encouragement, the reporter refused to canvass the opinion of more than two playwrights. We will preserve the Court's artistic independence and its physical home.