Maria Miller must engage with theatre industry, says Josie Rourke

Donmar Warehouse artistic director Josie Rourke. Photo: John Hunter
by -

Donmar Warehouse artistic director Josie Rourke has urged culture secretary Maria Miller to “take some time” to engage with the theatre community about the future funding of the sector.

Rourke follows other high-profile figures, including Danny Boyle and Nicholas Hytner, in speaking out about Miller’s perceived lack of support for the arts.

Speaking to The Stage, Rourke said ten years of investment in the arts under the previous government had “provided the most unbelievable infrastructure”, and expressed concern that the coalition “might be at the point of endangering that”.

She said she would like to meet Miller to discuss her concerns, adding: “Who wouldn’t want their moment to put the case for the sustained funding of theatre in this country to the secretary of state? That would be a great opportunity and one we are all eager to have, because it’s a great story, a success story. I understand there is lots of other stuff if you are [head of] the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, but take some time over the next few months to listen, because we are an articulate and sensible community.”

Rourke was speaking last week at the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s awards for the encouragement of new writing, at which the artistic director was honoured for her work at the Bush Theatre in London.

She said she had examples from her time working there to demonstrate to Miller how “pragmatic” the industry is.

“We know how much things cost and how to raise money. There has always been a drive at the heart of what we do about making work and having it happen, and of having a community of theatre makers and looking after each other,” she said.

Rourke also said philanthropy, which Miller has been encouraging within the arts, already exists in the sector, thanks to the actions of actors and writers working within it.

She highlighted the “philanthropic acts” of the creative community during her time at the Bush Theatre in helping the venue overcome difficulties as it relocated.

Rourke was honoured at the guild’s ceremony after being nominated by actor and writer Robin Soans.

Other winners at the event included Brigid Larmour, artistic director at the Watford Palace Theatre, and Janet Steel, artistic director of theatre comany Kali.