Letters of the week
We maintain the value of upkeep
Mark Shenton’s article on how the restoration levy is spent across the West End (February 14, page 8) appears to tar every theatre operator with the same brush. Cameron Mackintosh has led the way in restoring his beautiful buildings and preserving them for generations to come. We at Nederlander share his view on this – we believe we are just passing through a building that will be here for years to come, and have a responsibility to the upkeep of that building.
In 2008, the London Assembly published its report Restoration Drama – Investment in West End Theatre Buildings, which discusses the importance of investment in Theatreland’s venues and the ways in which this could be funded. In the five years since this report was written, the Nederlander Organisation has spent more than £3.3 million on maintaining, restoring and improving the Dominion Theatre.
If you visit one of our newly refurbished toilets, see the painstakingly restored plasterwork as you exit from the back of the circle, or attend a function in our studio space, you will see just part of where this money has gone.
At the end of last year, we took the difficult decision to become one of the last theatre owners to add a small restoration levy to each ticket sold for shows at the Dominion. This money will enable us to complete the works we have planned faster, so that customers, performers and other visitors benefit sooner. We will also be able to finance additional restoration projects that would otherwise not have been attempted. Being the home of an incredibly successful, long-running show such as We Will Rock You, major restoration is difficult to undertake without large investment in labour and out-of-hours time.
We are committed to completing each of our projects to the standard our beautiful Grade II-listed building deserves, using original techniques wherever possible, but also taking advantage of modern technology and sustainable materials in line with our environmental policy.
We are very grateful to our audiences who are helping us to ensure that this special building is around and in good condition for future generations of theatregoers to enjoy.
Nederlander Dominion Limited
Email address supplied
Celebrating on the Bacc of this
The government’s education U-turn (Arts leaders greet English Baccalaureate climbdown with ‘sigh of relief’, February 14, page 5) was fantastic news, not only for children, schools, teachers and education professionals, but also for the tens of thousands of musicians, actors and others who supported the Bacc for the Future campaign.
In the end, more than 100 creative industry arts and education organisations got behind Bacc for the Future. Between us, we generated nearly 50,000 signatures in support of our calls for creative subjects to be included in school performance measures, and more than 100 cultural, education and industry leaders backed a letter to No 10 just two weeks before the U-turn.
We are sure that by working together right across the arts we were able to change the government’s mind on its education reforms. The change in policy means that the new EBacc will not be introduced and we will not end up with a two-tier system of ‘EBCs’ and ‘GCSEs’, with creative subjects such as music firmly put into the second tier.
There is clearly cause to celebrate. Headteachers should now feel emboldened to deliver arts subjects right across key stage 4 at GCSE level, knowing that they will not be criticised for doing so, and their students’ successes will be reflected in the new performance measures.
However, there is more to do. Bacc for the Future will now turn its attention to persuading government to abolish the existing EBacc league tables – and their A level equivalent – which continue to devalue creative subjects in schools. To do this, the campaign continues to need your support – either by signing the petition at www.baccforthefuture.com or writing to your MP.
Awareness of subsidy is vital
In the report on the shadow culture secretary’s criticism of the coalition government’s cuts to the arts (News, February 14, page 1), Harriet Harman is quoted as saying that “the cuts have been made easier because most people remain unaware of the important role of subsidy in the arts”.
I believe this is a very important point. Time and again I find myself in conversation with theatregoers who have no conception of the difference between a commercially run and a subsidised theatre. I urge subsidised theatre managements to publish details of the funding they receive from public sources in all their programmes.
Cuts risk loss of vital resource
Many will remember that in 1990 the British Theatre Association ceased to operate, for the want of just a few pounds, despite having one of the finest drama libraries in the world.
The only good outcome was the removal of the play copies to Cardiff, to be looked after by the Drama Association of Wales. This it has done successfully, on the usual shoestring.
Despite all that, the Arts Council of Wales has withdrawn its grant for some reason, and it is almost certain that the association’s three employees will be out of a job this week. The library is not the only aspect of their work. Again, it looks as if everything will crumble for the lack of a few pounds.
One begins to wonder – what use are the arts councils?
Peter J Sutton
In defence of Professor Cox
Peters Baxter’s letter (Stage Talk, February 7, page 8) was interesting, and he is obviously more scientifically informed than I am.
However, he overlooks the fact that, despite his impressive academic qualifications, Brian Cox is still primarily an entertainer. Those who seek the definitive scientific facts should, perhaps, seek the traditional scholarly method of consulting learned tomes on the subject, while the rest of us are content to be seduced by the more entertaining presentation of the Brian Coxes.
In Cox’s defence, I don’t recall him saying his statement that energy was indestructible was scientifically proven, and for a presenter to say “I think” or “I believe” is far less gripping to the viewer than if he or she expresses the same view as a statement.
Personally, I love the thought that energy always existed and is indestructible, and that after my death my own minimal contribution will add to its volume. I only hope that there isn’t a limit to the amount of energy the universe can contain.
Cox is certainly not stupid, as Peter Baxter suggests, although Mr Baxter is laudably humble in his own admission that he is too stupid to understand his own belief. He rather reminds me of a friend who said, “I don’t believe in God, but he does seem to answer my prayers”.