Actors, producers and directors hail tax breaks as ‘crucial’ for arts in the UK

Simon Callow. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Leading actors, directors and producers including Mark Rylance, David Suchet, Sonia Friedman, Josie Rourke and Richard Eyre have added their signatures to a letter praising tax breaks for theatre as a “crucial and much needed additional stimulus” to generate productions and jobs in the UK’s performing arts sector.

In a letter to The Times, actors, producers and directors – including joint Ambassador Theatre Group chief executives Rosemary Squire and Howard Panter, actor Nigel Havers, producer Cameron Mackintosh and director Ian Rickson – welcome the measures outlined in last week’s budget.

The letter states that the tax breaks, covering opera, dance and ballet alongside theatre productions, “will have a strong, positive impact on the UK’s creative sector as a whole”.

“As a result of this decision, more live performance work will be produced. More jobs will be created. More cultural exports will be generated. More public engagement in the arts will be stimulated across the whole country,” the letter adds.

The letter describes British theatre as a “world leader” and adds: “We are recognised globally as having some of the finest writers, directors, designers, actors, dancers, singers, and technicians. We must ensure that we fuel this pre-eminence for future generations to come. In particular we welcome that these proposals provide the greatest incentive for touring production, thus stimulating the UK regions, which so often are the training ground for new talent in our industry. Yet currently, for almost a third of the year, on average, our regional theatres are ‘dark’,” the letter continues.

The letter, which is also signed by director Stephen Daldry, Sadler’s Wells chief executive Alistair Spalding, choreographer Matthew Bourne, and actors Rosamund Pike and Simon Callow, adds: “Importantly, these measures put theatre and all these performing arts on the same footing as the creative sectors that already benefit from a tax credit regime – such as UK film, UK animation, and UK high-end TV drama.

“When seen in conjunction with the existing framework of support for our great theatrical institutions, we believe that these measures provide a crucial and much needed additional stimulus to generate even more great work, for the UK as a whole.”