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2014 in review: news

Let the Right One In at the Apollo Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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The diversity of those employed in the performing arts has been a major theme this year with calls for more women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds to be engaged. Other key news included protestors’ success in forcing the closure of shows with funding from the Israeli government

January

• Musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory breaks the West End record for the highest reported weekly gross sales, taking £1,080,260 in the first week of the year.

• Former Whatsonstage chief Terri Paddock reveals she has been dismissed by the company’s new owners, Theatermania, but vows to pursue legal action.

• Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee announces it is to undertake an inquiry into the workings of Arts Council England following the 2013 Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital Report, which revealed the disproportionate amount of funding for London arts.

February

• Stiles and Drewe’s forthcoming production of The Wind in the Willows becomes the first West End show to raise £1 million using online crowdfunding technology.

• Nottinghamshire County Council confirms it will remove all of its funding for Nottingham Playhouse despite campaigners’ attempts to convince the local authority to continue its subsidy.

• Manchester Royal Exchange’s artistic director Greg Hersov announces he is leaving the venue after 27 years in the post, making Sarah Frankcom the theatre’s sole artistic director.

• The Stage’s editor, Brian Attwood, leaves after 20 years and is replaced by Alistair Smith, previously his deputy. Paddy Smith later joins as editor, online.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward closed after only four months. Photo: Nobby Clark
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Stephen Ward. Photo: Nobby Clark

March

Let the Right One In reopens the Apollo Theatre after three months of closure following a partial ceiling collapse in December 2013.

• Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Stephen Ward closes after four months at the West End’s Aldwych Theatre.

• Director Michael Grandage and casting director David Grindrod join a campaign to retain the £14 million Dance and Drama Award scheme for vocational training, warning that its removal could cause schools to close and reduce access to the industry.

• Chitty Chitty Bang Bang producer Michael Rose puts his production company into liquidation as his debts reach £1.1 million.

• Chancellor George Osborne announces tax breaks for the theatre sector. The tax relief will come into force in September.

Lenny Henry calls on the BBC to ring-fence money for TV programmes where at least 50% of the production teams and casts are black, Asian or minority ethnic.

April

• Culture secretary Maria Miller resigns following controversy over her expenses. She is replaced by Sajid Javid.

• The Book of Mormon and Chimerica are the big winners at the Olivier Awards, taking home four and five awards respectively. Highlights of the ceremony are broadcast on ITV but there are 500,000 fewer viewers than for 2013’s coverage.

English National Opera announces it is branching out into musical theatre after agreeing on a long-term partnership with commercial producers Michael Grade and Michael Linnit, later announcing that Sweeney Todd will be their first production, starring Emma Thompson.

Cameron Mackintosh. Photo: Eliza Power
Cameron Mackintosh. Photo: Eliza Power

May

• The National Theatre comes under fire for planning to hire actors to mime the parts of musicians made redundant from its West End production of War Horse, and the theatre is also forced to rename its Shed space the Temporary Theatre, after the licence to use the name expires.

Cameron Mackintosh becomes the first Briton in showbusiness to make it on to the Sunday Times’ Super Rich List, when his wealth is reported as £1 billion. The producer announces he is to buy the West End’s Victoria Palace and Ambassadors Theatres and rename the latter the Sondheim Theatre.

Matthew Warchus is announced as Kevin Spacey’s successor as artistic director of the Old Vic.

• An income survey reveals that more than 75% of actors in the UK earned less than £5,000 in 2013, and just 2% earned £20,000 or more.

• The Stage introduces Counting the House, a weekly snapshot of ticket sales across a selection of London shows.

June

Nikolai Foster is named as the new artistic director of Leicester’s Curve, succeeding Paul Kerryson, who had been at that point artistic director of the Leicester Theatre Trust for 23 years.

• The Stage’s annual ticketing survey reveals that the West End’s most expensive tickets had reached a new high of £152.25 after The Book of Mormon increased its premium seat prices by 20%. Conversely, extra fees charged on tickets across the West End had dropped to just 32p, down from £1.12 in 2013.

The City was cancelled due to protests
The City was cancelled due to protests

July

• The Orange Tree Theatre, Red Ladder Theatre Company and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds all lose 100% of their Arts Council England funding in a shake up of ACE’s national portfolio. • Chichester Festival Theatre reopens following a £22 million redevelopment project.

The City – a show partly funded by the Israeli government – has its run at the Edinburgh Fringe cancelled after protestors angry at Israel’s offensive on Gaza disrupted the first preview.

• Drama UK statistics reveal that – despite claims of a crisis of diversity in drama schools – black, Asian and other minority ethnic students made up one in eight of those who enrolled on acting courses in 2013.

The London Theatre Report is published, revealing that £620 million was spent on theatre tickets and 22 million people saw shows in the capital in 2012/13.

August

• Disgraced producer Paul Coxwell is sentenced to more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to four charges, including fraud and breaching an order preventing him from serving as a company director.

• A study finds that just 2.6% of jobs taken by musical theatre graduates in their first year of work are for shows in the West End.

• A new initiative aimed at raising the awareness of stress and mental well-being in the entertainment sector, called Arts and Minds, is launched by Spotlight, Equity and The Stage, following a series of high-profile suicides among actors.

Director Marianne Elliott. Photo: Brinkhoff Mogenberg
Director Marianne Elliott. Photo: Brinkhoff Mogenberg

September

• Brighton Hippodrome, Plymouth’s Palace Theatre and the Victoria Theatre in Salford top this year’s Theatre Buildings at Risk register.

• Leading theatre figures including Marianne Elliott, Jeremy Herrin and Matthew Warchus launch Stage Directors UK: the first industry body aimed specifically at representing the interests of stage directors.

• The Barbican cancels performances of Exhibit B, an art installation featuring chained black actors following protests and claims that it was racist.

Terri Paddock, the ex-Whatsonstage managing director, brings an employment tribunal against her former employers on grounds of unfair dismissal.

October

Drama schools hit back at claims of elitism as The Stage releases figures revealing state-educated pupils make up around 80% of their intake, while Dawn Walton, the artistic director of Eclipse Theatre Company, launches a three-year drive to increase the number of black British stories on stage.

• National Youth Theatre chief executive Paul Roseby says drama should be scrapped from the GCSE curriculum as a standalone subject, with its teaching integrated into other lessons instead.

Kyle Scatliffe, in The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Kyle Scatliffe, in The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic. Photo: Tristram Kenton

November

• MPs call for ACE to address the imbalance of funding between London and the regions with “greater urgency”.

• Education secretary Nicky Morgan says that the idea arts subjects open up career choices “couldn’t be further from the truth”. Drama leaders label her remarks “anti-arts propaganda”.

• New research reveals that drama school graduates in 2013 took 30% fewer jobs in the fringe sector than in 2012.

Cherry Campbell becomes the youngest person ever to win a BAFTA at nine years old, winning the award for her performance in Katie Morag.

• Gillian Anderson wins best actress and The Scottsboro Boys wins best musical at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards – a double win for the Young Vic.

• A tour of the musical Copacabana is cancelled, leaving suppliers owed money.

December

• Stage manager Rachael Presdee is awarded £3.7 million in an out-of-court settlement after an accident at the Soho Theatre on June 9, 2012, in which she fell more than three metres through an unprotected opening above the stage, left her paralysed. She. The theatre is sentenced for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and ordered to pay £30,000.

• George Osborne reveals the government will put £78 million into a new theatre in Manchester – capable of seating 2,200 or 5,000 standing.

• Figures released by Drama UK show that performers are more likely to work over the age of 40 on television and radio than in theatre, but the live sector is more diverse in terms of the ethnicity of actors.

Arts Council England announces that theatres could face having their funding axed if they don’t increase their diversity  on and offstage.

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