Cash crisis may force Britain's oldest children's theatre to close

THE OLDEST and best-known children's theatre in Britain is on the brink of collapse.

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.

News
peopleChildren leave in tears as Santa is caught smoking and drinking
Arts and Entertainment
A host of big name acts recorded 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' in London on Saturday
musicCharity single tops chart
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall has become the eighth celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing
tv
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin