Levelling up is a good thing and some theatres around the country have benefited but theatres elsewhere have had a disastrous cut in their Arts Council funding. The English National Opera is one such facing a dismal future. Of course like Hampstead it is in London and there is a case for spreading the jam more thinly if it is scarce in supply – but Hampstead is a local theatre, not a West End tourist stuffed house most of which only show musicals. It has lost its funding completely and as a result the artistic director Roxana Silbert has stood down and the theatre will be unable without the money to carry on as a new writing theatre. Silbert said it had not been an easy decision. “Hampstead will have to recalibrate and change in order to go forward and I wish it every success,” she said. “I’d like to extend heartfelt thanks to all the staff, freelancers, writers and artists – on stage and backstage – for their wonderful contributions to the work on our stages and beyond. And , of course, to out audiences who have made everything worthwhile.”
It is only one theatre, but there are many others who have suffered and the way the money has been reallocated is certainly open to question. I have been going since it was a little wooden structure round the corner and this is very bad and sad news – it has a brilliant past record and one which has been maintained under successive directors. Basically support the theatre near you – it needs it more than ever.