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Theatre figures rally behind Ideastap after closure announcement

IdeasTap chairman Peter de Haan IdeasTap chairman Peter de Haan
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Theatre figures including Rupert Goold have rallied behind arts charity Ideastap, which announced its intended closure earlier this week.

Ideastap, which supports emerging artists in the creative sector, announced it would close in June after failing to secure future funding.

The majority of Ideastap’s funding has been provided by philanthropist Peter de Haan, through his charitable trust. However, after more than a year of searching for alternative funding the organisation said it had no choice but to close.

A Facebook page set up in support of Ideastap has so far been backed by more than 10,000 people in the first four days of its creation, while an online petition has received around 3,300 signatures.

Those who took to Twitter to express concern over the charity’s closure included a number of theatres and arts organisations as well as Almeida artistic director Goold and playwright Luke Barnes.

Goold told The Stage: “Ideastap felt like a purely creative space. I helped them with some awards for emerging artists and was struck by the rigour and commitment they showed to everyone who came into contact with them.

“With arts subsidies vanishing there are less and less opportunities for emerging artists despite the overall vibrancy of the cultural sector. Ideastap provided a very special and supportive space and it will be sorely missed. It’s the equivalent of the end of the National Theatre Studio in theatre alone.”

Barnes, whose first play Chapel Street was funded by Ideastap, told The Stage: “It’s a massive shame to think of all the future young people that might miss out on the opportunity of having someone support their work in the early stages. As a cultural society, what are we missing out on as a result of the first port of call not being there? How many voices do we lose if that doesn’t survive?”

Poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, who set up the Facebook page and website saveideastap.com after hearing of the charity’s closure, said the response had demonstrated Ideastap’s reach among the creative industries.

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the theatre world, and the arts world in general, would look very different right now if it hadn’t been for Ideastap and its contribution and partnership with organisations,” she said.

Since its origin in 2008, Ideastap has awarded more than £2.3 million in direct funding from the Peter de Haan Charitable Trust, and has collaborated with the British Film Institute, the National Youth Theatre and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

De Haan said he was “extremely grateful” for the support Ideastap had received since announcing its closure, and added that he hoped the situation would be a “wake-up call” to those in positions of power about the significance of arts charities like Ideastap.

“At the end of the day we’re able to reach people that government and government agencies can’t. We are a modern way of building that relationship with young creatives when they leave college,” he said.

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