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An Open Letter to Arts Council England regarding the cut to Orange Tree Theatre's funding

Andrew Macbean, Chair of W&SW London Equity Branch, asks Sir Peter Bazalgette to explain the 100% cut to the Orange Tree Theatre's funding

Last month it was announced that the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond was one of the 58 organisations to lose their NPO status. Reacting to the news, Paul Miller who recently took over as artistic director following the retirement of Sam Walters, said the Orange Tree was "deeply disappointed" by the news, but had been warned that the Arts Council was under "extraordinary pressure" to reduce its funding in the capital.

Reacting to the cuts, the Chair of W&SW London Equity Branch Andrew Macbean, penned a letter to Sir Peter Bazalgette, national Chair of Arts Council England, which has garnered support from hundreds of industry professionals including David Tennant and Derek Jacobi.

You can read the full letter below and contact Andrew on [email protected] to add your support to the campaign.

Dear Peter,

Re : The Orange Tree Theatre

I am writing to you on behalf of the W&SW London Branch of Equity, plus many other industry professionals, about the recent NPO funding announcement. Equity Branches are run by members for members as a communications link between the Union's grass-roots and head office, to support members in their working lives and to further the Union's campaigning.

We realise you have had difficult decisions to make and applaud the inclusion of new and ambitious arts companies in your recent round of funding. However we are devastated at your 100% cut for The Orange Tree Theatre. It is one of London's most prolific producers of plays. It has brought remarkable UK, European and World writers to the public's attention and regularly sells out. It has run one of the most successful trainee theatre director programmes of any theatre or training establishment and employs huge numbers of actors of all ages and backgrounds.

We were delighted when the Board appointed Paul Miller as Artistic Director, and believe his launch programme is ambitious and challenging with an exciting choice of plays and directors. To withdraw funding at this sensitive time when Paul is taking over after the 43 year tenure of the extremely popular Sam Walters, putting the theatre into such dire straits, is reckless and destructive. We don't expect to be party to private discussions between ACE and the Orange Tree but please help us understand why a theatre we value so dearly is considered unworthy of financial support.

Every single one of the names on the following pages has e mailed me to offer their personal support. We are all industry professionals, some with significant experience and recognition and some who have only just joined this business. We place huge value on the The Orange Tree and want to see its future secure. Please take our concerns seriously.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Macbean
Chair, W&SW London Equity Branch