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Billy Elliot’s Lee Hall calls for theatre funding to be protected

Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall.
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Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall has urged MPs and future governments to protect funding for theatre, claiming that the industry’s grassroots need particular safeguarding.

The writer, whose adaptation of Shakespeare in Love has just opened at the Noel Coward Theatre in the West End, said that he would not have enjoyed the success he has if he had not been supported when he was starting out in regional theatre.

His comments come after the recent Arts Council England funding settlements, which saw regional companies such as Red Ladder and Propeller receive 100% cuts.

Hall said: “Every penny the government puts into theatre brings back four or five more pennies to the economy. You can see the West End is thriving, and the whole of theatre is this very complex ecology we really need funding for, because it’s the one time we put more back than we get in. I lament any cuts to the arts, but specifically theatre.”

He added: “We could not have done Shakespeare in Love if Declan [Donnellan, the director] and I had not started elsewhere. It’s really important that such an important industry is supported in the grassroots.”

Hall also praised cinema screenings of theatre productions as a “great thing” for the industry.

“I am a proselytiser for theatre and love it, so if we can show a production around the world, that is fabulous,” he said.

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