Hard times and heroes: introducing The Stage 100 2013

Picture: Harry Venning
Picture: Harry Venning
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As the UK’s theatres sparkle with creative brilliance amid a background of grey austerity The Stage 100 salutes the industry’s brightest sparks, some well known and others unsung

If you’re reading this, the Mayans were wrong and the world did not end on December 21. Nor, as it emerged, were the Olympics quite as apocalyptic for UK theatre as had been feared. The West End is still here and thriving, while Danny Boyle’s spectacular opening ceremony helped broadcast Britain’s creative talent to a global audience.

That’s not to say that the year was plain sailing for everyone. In the latter part of 2012, there were clear and worrying signs that life for regional theatres was becoming more difficult and, with local authority cuts really starting to bite, one suspects that the struggle to survive in the regions will be the story of 2013.

Every year, The Stage 100 provides the chance to look back at the last 12 months and assess the performance of key individuals within our industry. The truth is that there hasn’t been a massive shake-up – with only two new entries in the top 20. Still, there have been some subtle, but significant changes.

While Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire have proved immovable at the top of the list, they are joined this year by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr from the National Theatre. This marks the first time that a figure, or figures, from the subsidised sector has ever topped The Stage 100.

Not only does it reflect the increasing power and influence of the National, but also the fact that – over the past decade or so – the subsidised theatre has grown from something of a poor relative to stand shoulder to shoulder with the leading players in the commercial world. One might even be tempted to argue that, in terms of creative output, it is begin to surpass the commercial sector.

A bit of housekeeping. In line with changes to last year’s Stage 100, we have listed executive directors alongside artistic directors when there is a clear argument to do so. This has been predominantly restricted to the top 20, for logistical reasons. Other restrictions are still in place – no politicians, PRs, or heads of trade bodies (the one exception to this rule is explained within their entry).

We also generally don’t list multiple entrants from companies where there is a single figurehead. Nick Allott is included thanks to his many associations beyond Cameron Mackintosh Ltd and because it seemed perverse to continue to exclude one of the industry’s highest profile figures on a technicality.

The bulk of the list – reflecting the industry at large at a senior level – is still white and male, but there has been a significant jump in the number of women in The Stage 100 this year: up from 23 (the lowest for some time) in 2012 to 37 this year. There are also a few non-white figures making the cut, but – honestly – it’s still a depressingly low figure.

Eagle-eyed readers will also spot that within our ‘writers and composers’ section there aren’t any composers. This is not a mistake. The sad fact is that there weren’t any new musicals whose composers justified entry this year – all the big openings in the West End have been jukebox affairs and the only genuine new musical, Loserville, will close early in January due to poor ticket sales. Let’s hope things improve in 2013.

This year, for the third time, we also recognise the leading organisations working in the UK with The Stage 100 Awards. We had a record number of reader nominations via www.thestage.co.uk for the awards this year, all categories were hard-fought and, I’m glad to report, we could have chosen any of a number of worthy winners. Still, the ones our judging panel have plumped for represent the best of the best in 2012.

Also returning this year are our Unsung Hero awards. These recognise figures working within the industry, who shun the limelight but still play a crucial role in making sure the show goes on. We have two exceptional winners this year and we look forward to celebrating their achievements, and those of our other award winners, at The Stage New Year Party at the end of January.

The Stage 100 is compiled by The Stage and edited by deputy editor Alistair Smith

For more from The Stage 100

Number one

Numbers 3 to 6

Numbers 7 to 10

Numbers 11 to 20

The rest, by category