Forty years ago this week, we interviewed playwright Arnold Wesker about the future of dramatists and directors in the UK.
We reported: “[Wesker] says people in his position have no choice but to look abroad if they want reasonable rewards for their work. ‘There never was enough money to pay writers and directors adequately in this country and now there isn’t even enough to pay them inadequately,’ he told The Stage.
“Wesker blames the decline of the British arts scene on the philistine attitudes of [those] with power and money. The leading figures in our own society were far less arts-aware than their equivalents in other countries, he says.
“Wesker said that although writers and directors can only achieve a reasonable income level by working abroad, they need not be forced to emigrate.
“British talent is always in demand and artists with established reputations could boost their incomes by accepting invitations for specific foreign projects while continuing to live in Britain, he explained. Easing the plight of home-grown theatre would involve a change of attitude.
‘The arts will always be a minority pursuit,’ he said, ‘but I am not persuaded that they should be as minor as they are at the moment.’ ”
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