Theatre luminaries warn arts funding cuts could hinder future generation of playwrights

'New plays are vital to the future health of British theatre' they say

More than 60 of Britain’s most acclaimed luminaires of stage and screen have called on Culture Minister Ed Vaizey to respond to a report outlining the threat Government funding cuts pose to new playwriting in the country.

Sir Tom Stoppard, Michael Frayn, Caryl Churchill and Mike Leigh are among the signatories on a letter urging Mr Vaizey to take the independent report seriously.

The report, dubbed In Battalions, was researched and written by playwright Fin Kennedy. It was sent to Mr Vaizey’s office two months ago and so far there has been no response.

“If the next generation of playwrights are not properly supported, this could seriously affect output in a few years’ time, and new plays are vital to the future health of British theatre,” the letter read. 

Mr Kennedy undertook the project following comments Mr Vaizey made to him that Arts Council cuts were having “no effect” and there was “no evidence” to prove otherwise.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has now had the report for as long as Mr Kennedy and his research assistant had to write it.

Mr Kennedy said: “I believe we have showed there’s a problem, but Mr Vaizey seems unwilling to accept the evidence we have sent him.”

Other signatories include Vicky Featherstone, Richard Bean, Sheila Hancock, Sam West and Sir Richard Eyre.