Cash crisis may force Britain's oldest children's theatre to close
Saturday 23 May 1998
The 50-year-old Unicorn Theatre for Children is in financial crisis and will close unless it can raise pounds 200,000 from a public appeal.
Ironically, news of the crisis breaks two days after the launch of a book, Creative Britain, by Secretary of State for Culture, Chris Smith, in which he states that education and access are two of the cornerstones of Britain's arts policy.
The Unicorn is famous for both its educational work and for encouraging thousands of children to go to the theatre for the first time.
It is one of only two children's theatres in Britain. The other is the Polka Theatre, in south London.
Critically acclaimed, and attracting 50,000 children over the last year, the plight of the Unicorn has nothing to do with its record as a children's theatre.
Based in the Arts Theatre Building in the West End of London, it is dependent on rental from other productions in the evening to supplement its own income. While the Unicorn's daytime shows have done well, the evening productions, which it also programmes, have fared badly over the last year, losing an extra pounds 50,000.
The Unicorn has long wanted to have a purpose-built theatre of its own and is preparing a Lottery application. But at present it has a deficit of pounds 340,000. The theatre receives a grant of pounds 320,000 from the London Arts Board.
Performers who featured at the Unicorn early in their careers include Sylvester McCoy, Maureen Lipman, Amanda Barrie and Jenny Seagrove. Unicorn writers have included Shirley Hughes and Adrian Mitchell.
Tony Graham, the artistic director, said yesterday the theatre would have to close if the pounds 200,000 was not raised.
He added that he had plans for it to become a unique cultural centre for children, showcasing international work, doing research into children's theatre and continuing with its successful story-telling festival of this year, as well as maintaining its reputation for children's shows.
He said: "The closure of the Unicorn would be a disastrous loss for London's children. It would seem to be deeply ironic when we are repeatedly told that our national cultural priorities hinge on children, education and access.
"Over two and a half million children have visited the Unicorn since we began; many well-known actors made their first appearance here; the Unicorn occupies a very special place in people's hearts. Everyone just finds it inconceivable that we should go down."
Those wishing to contribute to the Save The Unicorn fund should telephone 0171-836 3334.
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
- 4 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
- 5 Google search history can now be downloaded in its entirety, mass embarrassment expected
Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
'Jihadi John': Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi wanted to wage jihad in Somalia until his friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...
£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...
£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...
£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...