WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

Andrew Lloyd Webber: 'The government doesn't have a clue what a successful show can do'

Lloyd Webber has spoken on LBC about the lasting impacts of the government's pandemic policies

Andrew Lloyd Webber
© Dan Wooller

Andrew Lloyd Webber has gone on LBC to speak to Nick Ferrari, just as his new musical Cinderella begins previews at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in the West End.

Lloyd Webber was blunt about the state of the nationwide arts community: "You hear all over the country that regional theatres and performers are on their knees...The country really needs its theatre – not just for its financial reasons. Without live entertainment our lives are immensely poorer."

The interview comes as Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden unveils further funding as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund – amidst reports that some who had successfully applied for grants had not received amounts promised.

Lloyd Webber wasn't all that positive on the government's perspective on the arts: "I was once told by Oliver Dowden, who I think has done a good job in his way, he said in passing 'I have the difficulty that people think that "theatre is not essential, it's nice to have" and I've been fighting that attitude'."

He went on to say that: "We've been made a sacrificial lamb: theatres are properly ventilated, there's no recycled air in any of our theatres...Why does this government really not rate culture, I don't understand it." Lloyd Webber added that Dowden seems to be "up against a brick wall."

Yesterday, it was announced that Lloyd Webber, Sonia Friedman and others will begin legal action after the government has failed to publish any data from two months' worth of Events Research Programme projects – including the Snooker World Championships and the BRIT Awards. Apparently the High Court will set a date for early July for this to be investigated.

The Cats composer went on: "One of the reasons, I hear, that the report has been delayed, is that health officials didn't like what was in it. Because it does say that it's quite safe. That was the whole point with the Snooker at the Crucible."

Lloyd Webber says that the Conservatives have 'completely lost' the support of the arts sector over its handling of the community during the pandemic. He added that he's never met Prime Minister Boris Johnson, though once had a letter from him.