George Osborne – theatre tax relief will prevent decline in regional productions

Chancellor George Osborne. Photo: Andrew Parsons
by -

The government’s forthcoming theatre tax relief scheme will help to revive regional theatre and ensure the industry’s success is felt across the country and not just in London’s West End, Chancellor George Osborne has said.

Speaking at Theatre Royal Brighton today ahead of the tax scheme coming into effect on September 1, Osborne said he hoped the initiative would put a stop to the decline of regional theatre and touring productions by making it easier to put on these shows.

He said: “Regional productions have dropped off over many years - even though the West End has been very strong in London - and I want to change that around. I want to make sure we get the benefit of our great theatre industry and our culture felt all over the country.”

More job opportunities for those working in the theatre sector as well as those working in the tourist industry will be created as a result of the scheme, he said.

The major new tax relief scheme was confirmed by the government earlier this year and means that from Monday, touring shows can apply for 25% relief and non touring productions will be eligible for a 20% tax credit on qualifying production costs.

It will apply to plays, musicals, opera, ballet, dance and circus shows and is expected to bring in up to £120 million for touring and commercial productions in future years. It is expected to benefit around 250 production companies a year.

When asked if the financial benefits of the scheme would make up for the government’s 36% reduction to Arts Council England’s budget since 2010, Osborne said: “Regional productions have sadly been in decline for many years, and that's come and gone regardless of the arts council budget, but I hope this [the tax relief scheme] will revive regional theatre and revive touring productions so that we have the great success of the West End – which has probably never been more successful than it is today - but we also have great successes around the regions.

“What you’re seeing is a new arts culture emerge where both not for profit and commercial theatre have been working with the Treasury and government to come up with a great new tax scheme that will make productions possible that were not possible before.”

A new touring production of Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, which will open at Theatre Royal Brighton in January 2015, was announced today as one of the first shows to make use of the theatre tax relief.

Its co-producers, English Touring Theatre and Theatre Royal Brighton Productions, said the show – which has a large 20-strong cast and crew – would not have been possible without the support of the tax scheme.