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The Editor’s View: Help The Stage protect expert arts journalism

Lyn Gardner. Photo: The Stage Lyn Gardner. Photo: The Stage/Catherine Gerbrands
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When Lyn Gardner’s theatre blogs were cut by the Guardian earlier this year, the move was met with uproar from the theatre community.

Theatres from across the UK – including the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company – wrote to the publication asking it to change its mind.

“Lyn Gardner’s stage blog is a genuine piece of pioneering journalism. Uniquely insightful and hugely valuable, it is an essential component of the narrative of UK theatre today,” they wrote.

Well, I agree. And that is why The Stage is delighted to be welcoming Lyn on board as our new associate editor.

From next week she will join our team and her blog will find a new home with us. You will be able to read her opinions online and in print weekly and she’ll also be writing a big monthly feature, as well as sitting on a range of our awards panels.

She joins an existing team of excellent regular writers – with others including her fellow associate editor Mark Shenton, we now have an unrivalled range of voices on theatre across the UK and beyond.

The Guardian took what I imagine was a very difficult decision to cut Lyn’s blog as part of a cost-cutting drive. It, like many other publications, is facing an uncertain future as it tries to adapt an outdated business model to a media landscape that is completely different from the one in which it was launched in the 19th century. In simple terms, fewer people than before are buying the Guardian.

The Stage faces similar challenges. We are an independent, family-owned company that does not receive any subsidy. To survive and thrive, and to be able to commission superb writers such as Lyn, we rely on the commercial arm of our business to support us. So, as well as copy sales, we now charge regular users of our website and a big slice of our income comes from the recruitment and training adverts that you can see in print and online, as well as sponsorship for events such as The Stage Awards and The Stage Debut Awards.

If you value the kind of expert, independent journalism The Stage offers, it is crucial that you support it in any way you can – whether that’s buying your weekly copy of the paper, taking out a £3.59 monthly web subscription, placing an advert or sponsoring an award.

The Guardian’s current predicament should be a lesson. Use us or lose us.

Email your views to alistair@thestage.co.uk

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