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Derby Theatre: 'Theatres can be a key ally in regenerating communities'

Many venues have warned of the significant problems that will follow without further support

Derby Theatre recently co-produced Pilot Theatre's Crongton Knights
© Robert Day

Derby Theatre, the Royal Court and more have warned of the future of the arts if further support isn't given.

Writing a testimonial to the Digital, Cultural, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee about the ongoing crisis in the arts sector during the coronavirus lockdown, Derby Theatre stated bluntly that "the industry has been decimated" since all spaces were forced to close down in March.

The theatre also warned in its testimonial that a lack of consistent funding will cause venues to be less adventurous and more likely to bring in safe bets. "The industry needs investment to be able to take risks...For those from the most diverse backgrounds, this may be a blow from which they never recover as pathways into the industry become more complex."

But it also emphasised how vital the arts will be going forwards. "Theatres are civically engaged and can be seen as a key ally in regenerating communities, the economy and supporting the health and wellbeing of our society."

London's Royal Court repeated such thoughts in its own testimonial, provided by executive director Lucy Davies. For Davies, there's a big risk that "marginalised voices and people of color are pushed aside to prioritise a core, top-ticket price, theatre-going audience."

Davies has offered a number of solutions to the ongoing issues in her testimonial, including partnerships with broadcasters and networks, as well as "digging into communities at a much more civic operational level to shore up social fragility and change".

She also believes that venues should aspire towards leaning more heavily into talent development, thinking globally about future collaborations.

As the Theatres Trust stated in their testimonial: "The post war rebuilding of the nation saw the creation of the Arts Council of Great Britain in an attempt to preserve the culture of the UK and Theatres Trust hope a similarly ambitious plan will create a cultural zenith where the British public can once again meet and celebrate storytelling and further a rich theatrical tradition."

Other testimonials came from the likes of Shakespeare's Globe, who warned that they could face closure without governmental support.

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