Letter: Dramatically short of financial help

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report ('Amateurs may get state arts cash') and leading article of 30 September followed by Anthony Everett's letter (1 October) are of particular interest to us. We are the directors of a small professional theatre company with many visionary ideas for the future, and we have worked unbelievably hard for the past five years to realise them.

We moved from touring local schools to touring two new plays simultaneously, nationally and internationally, including some major venues. What is more, we did all this without receiving a single penny of funding.

We are not an amateur group, working with free labour and limited goals, nor are we a great institution such as the National Theatre or the Royal Shakespeare Company, able to put on public pressure to get the resources they need. We are part of the enormous body of small-scale companies which provide the only professional theatre that some parts of the country ever see. Every Arts Council criterion for theatre is met by this sector - and met better than by any other sector of British theatre. Yet in 1990-91, these companies received a mere pounds 1,073,000 in touring and project funding from a drama budget of more than pounds 35m.

Of 197 applications, 63 were granted, and a further 41 would have been granted had the money been available (costing approximately pounds 700,000, compared with pounds 250,000 for The Creative Future). Our professional body, the Independent Theatre Council, was not even consulted as part of the National Arts and Media Strategy until it made a fuss about being overlooked.

Given these facts - sacred or not - it is clear that the Arts Council is not even committed to helping those who best fulfil its charter, so how can it propose to extend its support to other areas, such as the amateur sector, and expect to be taken seriously?

Yours faithfully,

WILLIAM ALDERSON

JACQUELINE MULHALLEN

Lynx Theatre and Poetry Ltd

London, E9

2 October

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