Cuts force Theatre Writing Partnership to close

Theatre Writing Partnership, the development agency formed more than a decade ago to support and promote new playwriting, is being forced to close this summer after it lost its regular funding from Arts Council England.

The organisation, which develops and supports playwrights in the East Midlands, will close at the end of June.

TWP began in 2001, when four theatres appointed Esther Richardson as a regional literary manager, before becoming an independent organisation in 2006. Since 2008, ACE has awarded TWP more than £80,000 a year, but last March the organisation discovered it had not made the arts council’s national portfolio funding programme from 2012.

Artistic director Kate Chapman told The Stage: “In light of that, the board took the decision that it was difficult for us to come up with a business model to take us forward and allow us to do the work we had been doing effectively. There are other things happening in the East Midlands now, and we have spent this last year trying to support other initiatives in the region, but TWP as it stands won’t be here.”

One of the playwrights the body has supported is Amanda Whittington, who is also chair of the theatre committee at the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. She said she wrote Satin ‘n’ Steel for TWP as a “ten-minute curtain-raiser”, which went on to become a full-length play for Nottingham Playhouse, and described the organisation as a “hugely important new writing agency”.

“Playwrights in the region are deeply concerned by its closure and feel the decision to withdraw its regular funding makes no sense at all. With a staff of just two, TWP has consistently offered value for money and punched above its weight,” she said.

For its last project, TWP has launched Making Tracks, which challenges playwrights to come up with ideas for new projects inspired by a journey. Seven proposals from the 23 submitted have been funded through the project.

Chapman said a presentation on June 8 will allow those writers to explain where they are with their ideas, with producers invited along in the hope that some projects will make it to the stage.

She added: “The fact TWP won’t be here after June has had an impact on the region. It has generated a lot of questions about how writers should be supported and how new works for theatre should be supported.”

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