Statement from SOLT & UK Theatre on Arts Council England 2023-26 Investment Programme Announcment

For many theatre organisations, today’s offer of Arts Council England funding will be greatly welcomed: it will offer creative opportunity and business security within an incredibly challenging economic environment.

However, for many, today’s unwelcome news that they will not be offered funding, or offered less funding than hoped, will be incredibly challenging. Those organisations will be faced with some very tough decisions in the coming months. As theatres face a gruelling winter and crippling energy bills, even those who do receive funding won’t be able to achieve what they have in the past – creatively and as civic centres within their communities.

Arts Council England funding is an investment in a growing sector. We must not underestimate the strength of the theatre sector as an entrepreneurial and economic driver, locally, nationally and internationally. Independent economic modelling undertaken in 2021 revealed that, with the right fiscal incentives, by 2025, the UK’s Creative & Cultural Industries – of which theatre is an integral part – could contribute £132.1 billion in GVA – more than the financial services, insurance and pension industries combined.

Following the decisions announced today, SOLT and UK Theatre look forward to working with the Government and other partners to find ways to ensure theatre organisations – both not-for-profit and commercial – can continue to contribute to our economic, social and cultural prosperity. We would urge the Government in the short term to utilise fiscal incentives, such as extending the higher rate of Theatre Tax Relief to stimulate supply, and a return to 5% VAT on tickets to stimulate demand to ensure that as many theatres as possible can continue to thrive.

Hannah Essex, Co-CEO of SOLT and UK Theatre



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