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Arts Council couldn’t increase Northern Broadsides funding (your views, August 3)

Barrie Rutter. Photo: Chris Pepper Barrie Rutter. Photo: Chris Pepper
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In response to Barrie Rutter’s opinion piece about leaving Northern Broadsides (‘It’s been a grand 25 years, but the Arts Council did for me’, Opinion, July 27), we’re sorry that he has chosen to leave the company. Since he founded the company 25 years ago, he has been a visionary director, taking theatre to new audiences and new places.

The sort of established track record of quality and of reaching audiences that Northern Broadsides has is always going to be relevant to our decision-making. At the same time, our national portfolio programme is a competitive process. The application guidance stated that requests for increased funding had to meet certain criteria, including creating additional work. Unfortunately, the application for an increase from Northern Broadsides did not meet this.

Funding decisions were made by the members of our North Area Council – who are named on our website – which includes people with long experience of working professionally in the arts in Yorkshire. They know and admire what the team at Northern Broadsides has achieved.

We wish Barrie continued success in what he does next and we look forward to working with the board of Northern Broadsides as they plan for the next four years, with the assurance of Arts Council national portfolio funding of more than £1 million.

Sarah Maxfield
Area director, North
Arts Council England

Clampdown on tax relief claims

Having been involved since inception, we would modestly suggest that we have played a very major part in claiming theatre tax relief on behalf of our many clients (‘Tax relief brings £60m savings to 2,000 shows’, News, July 21).

However, caution is advised to make sure the claim is bona fide and not greedy.

Regarding these claims, HMRC is becoming more alert… Watch out.

Robert Breckman
Breckman and Company

Look around for female writers

Twice in recent weeks, The Stage’s ‘hold the front page’ lead article has highlighted the lack of female writers working in theatre (‘West End musical writers: nine men to every woman’, News, July 6; ‘Hampstead criticised over absence of female writers’, News, July 19).

It’s about time The Stage looked further than the West End and subsidised venues such as the Hampstead Theatre to find shows by women writers.

Here at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, we have just opened Treating Odette, a new play about women, by a woman (Jennifer Selway), starring three women and produced by a woman. Add to that list the female designer, female assistant director, female stage manager and female assitant stage manager and you’ll get my train of thought.

However, despite sending the usual press release to The Stage, there was no mention of our play in Production News, no mention in Calendar and at the press performance, The Stage reviewers were only noticeable by their absence.

Perhaps if The Stage publicised new plays by female writers, it might give hope, inspiration and encouragement to both new and established female writers who, at the moment, must think there is no place for them if they believe what is reported or not reported in the industry press.

Ask a commercial West End producer if they would invest in a show purely on the basis it was written by a woman and I could make an educated guess at the answer.

However, because small-scale theatre is not restricted by such heavy financial expectations, the independent and fringe sector is an area where female writers can flourish and hopefully develop their skills to the extent that they produce work that is recognised as ‘great writing’ and is not pigeonholed by statistics that highlight the gender of the writers.

Oh and by the way, in the printed edition of The Stage on July 6, there were 12 show reviews written by men and six by women – I’m still trying to work out that percentage.

John Plews
Co-artistic director
Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London

Quotes of the week

Jenny Sealey. Photo: Micha Theiner
Jenny Sealey, artistic director and CEO of Graeae Theatre Company. Photo: Micha Theiner

“You can have the best ramp, an induction loop, sign language interpreters, note takers – everything but if the attitude of the theatre, casting director or the producer, the attitude of the BBC or Channel 4 or whoever, if the attitude is not in and around equality, acceptance and engagement then that is what stops us.”
Jenny Sealey on access for disabled performers (mrcarlwoodward.com)

I’m always saying to the younger ladies in the company, please, please have babies! Don’t stop yourself from having a family. Because if you have a baby, your mind will be really relaxed – you’ll just let things go. The girls are prone to thinking, ‘Oh, before a performance I shouldn’t leave my dressing room or lie on the bed in a certain position, otherwise the performance will go wrong’. Have a baby, and you worry only about the important, practical things.”
Ballet dancer Viktoria Tereshkina (Telegraph)

Throughout drama school, there was a slow realisation that I couldn’t act. I was terrible. Yes, it really knocked my confidence. I was really young when I went in, and I really wanted to please. I don’t think you can be a good actor and want to please because so much about performing and acting is surprising people. But at drama school, I felt like what they wanted from me was for me to just get it right somehow.
Actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Guardian)

“All the shows are my shows, I’m very involved. I’ve been able to produce only the shows I want to see, even though the primary creative people are others. If a show goes well, it’s somebody else’s success; if it doesn’t go well, it’s my failure. Once I understood that, I felt free.”
David Lan on running the Young Vic (The Times)

“I don’t think that just because people will pay a certain amount for a ticket that it’s all right to charge it. It’s very important to us to keep it accessible. [American producers] don’t have the same sense of social responsibility, but we do. And we’re calling the shots.”
Director John Tiffany on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ticket prices (Evening Standard)

“The age thing was never a factor for me. Well, it probably is now because I’m so fucking ancient. But I have always been a character actress, so it never applied. I was always a bit odd and I still am. I don’t fit a mould.”
Actor Stockard Channing (The Telegraph)

What you said on Facebook

What you said about understudy Natasha J Barnes admitting: ‘I didn’t feel good about stepping in for Sheridan Smith’…

Usually the understudy is as good, if not better, than the principal. I wasn’t impressed with Sheridan Smith’s performance when I saw the show, but with hindsight it was just before she went off ill, so that was probably why because she is an outstanding actor. So, congratulations Natasha and you couldn’t pick a better mentor than Imelda Staunton, who is just brilliant.
Sheryl Walpole

What you said about Richard Jordan’s column marking 12 months on from ‘the worst West End audience ever’…

If you want to text and be loud in a theatre/cinema, go to a coffee shop or something. Yes theatre should be open to all and yes it should be affordable, but it’s patronising to young people to assume that it’s the done thing to be on the phone and eat popcorn to enjoy a show. It’s basically people who have bad manners. I very rarely go to the cinema now, because talking and texting has become the norm. I would hate the same thing to happen in theatre.
Tom Graysham

What you said about the news that Michelle Terry will replace Emma Rice at Shakespeare’s Globe…

She’s a fine actor and I’m sure she’ll do a good job – very encouraging news after the past two seasons.
Malcolm Hobbs

I’m going to miss Rice. She was an innovator with boundless imagination. I guess this means no more Kneehigh – a step in the wrong direction in my mind.
Kevin Nash

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