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Theatres fight Tory cuts and ice-skater mauled by lion – 40 years ago in The Stage

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September 6, 1979: The arts were railing against cuts by the Tory government. Plus ça change… We reported the Theatres’ Advisory Council had launched its biggest campaign to raise money for the industry, following Margaret Thatcher’s subsidy cuts. Campaigners from the Edinburgh Fringe and the Royal Shakespeare Company were at the forefront of action urging government protests. But the RSC was also in hot water, as we reported.

“One of the problems of the campaign will be preventing the various sections of theatre from actively competing against one another for decreasing amounts of subsidy. The troubles have already started with ‘The Campaign to Defend Community Theatre’ in Gateshead attacking the RSC’s six-week visit to Newcastle costing an estimated £292,000.

“The community theatre campaign organisers say they are very grateful for the £100 personal donation from the RSC’s Trevor Nunn, but they could use the ‘staggering’ sum being spent on the tour to finance 10 local theatre groups all the year round.”

Later in the issue, we reported on the case of Susan Lightfoot from Blackpool. The 18-year-old ice-skater was mauled by a lion while on tour in Spain. The ice show was in the same venue as a circus. The animal broke its lead and attacked her, leaving the young performer needing 60 stitches. But thankfully she was okay. “She is doing very well and having the best of care,” her mother said.

If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive [2]

Funding cuts force theatres to rely more on box office, data reveals [3]