Culture minister Ed Vaizey and Frances Osborne, wife of chancellor George Osborne, hosted a reception to “celebrate British theatre” at No 11 Downing Street this week.
Leading figures from the theatre industry including Andrew Lloyd Webber and Nica Burns joined performers including Michael Ball, Henry Goodman and Ruth Wilson, and leaders of many of the country’s regional theatres at the event.
Speaking at the reception, Vaizey said: “We are here to recognise your enormous success and don’t be in any doubt that the government is aware of how amazing our wonderful theatres are. We recognise the importance of what we call the subsidised theatre in supporting the West End theatre. One could not exist without the other. We’re incredibly proud and we intend to continue to support you as best we can through these difficult times and into the good times.”
In response, Society of London Theatre president Mark Rubinstein welcomed “the opportunity to celebrate the industry and pledge our support for it”, while Theatrical Management Association president Rachel Tackley said she wanted to “applaud this government’s determination to do everything it can to help us get through these difficult times.”
However, she warned: “And yet we still feel a little uneasy. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet. We are warned about potential in-year cuts at the arts council and the very real threats to our regional theatres from [reductions in] local authority funding.”
Meanwhile, Rubinstein added: “The health of our creative industry is reliant on modest but sustained investment. Without it, our future status as global cultural leaders is threatened. We want to see to local and central support of theatre maintained and we would welcome theatre being offered the kind of tax breaks already afforded other creative industries, such as TV, film and computer games in order to encourage further commercial investment.”