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Brexit cited as major concern for the theatre industry in 2019

Cassie Chadderton, Sonia Friedman and Indhu Rubasingham Cassie Chadderton, Sonia Friedman and Indhu Rubasingham. Photos: David Monteith-Hodge/Jason Alden/Mark Douet
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Leading theatre figures have highlighted Brexit and political uncertainty as the major concerns for the industry in 2019, claiming art will have a greater role to play in bringing people together.

Industry leaders including Indhu Rubasingham, Sonia Friedman and Nadia Fall have spoken to The Stage about their concerns for the sector in 2019, with the political turmoil currently faced by the UK – and the impact this will have on everyone working in the creative industries – cited as a major issue for the sector.

Rubasingham, artistic director of the Kiln Theatre in London, told The Stage: “Next year is going to be tumultuous for the country. Theatre could have a crucial role in reflecting and refracting this, acknowledging the divisions and giving voice for these opinions to be heard.”

She added: “The industry is going to have to hold steady during these turbulent times.”

Theatre Royal Stratford East artistic director Fall said theatre needed to “fortify community in a time of political and economical uncertainty and divisiveness in our society”, while Leicester Curve chief executive Chris Stafford said it would be “interesting to see how Brexit plays out” and the effect it will have.

He said theatres could “see our business models change massively… and probably not for the better”.

Friedman, meanwhile, said she hoped creativity might flourish in 2019.

“We live in uncertain times. Uncertainty can be both positive and negative. For the theatre, economic uncertainty can lead to audiences feeling unable to commit money to see shows. But equally, uncertainty can provoke outstanding work,” she said.

UK Theatre head Cassie Chadderton said everyone in the creative industries would “soon be weathering changes to funding and the economy”.

“In theatre, our resilience depends on us weathering changes to funding and the economy, and to the movement of talent,” she said.

Casting director Pippa Ailion also raised movement of talent as an issue.

“I am most concerned that freedom of movement for all theatre practitioners should be allowed to continue,” she said.

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