An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Theatre was created this week, with an inaugural General Meeting on Monday 1 July.
Led by Giles Watling, Conservative MP for Clacton, and Tracy Brabin, Labour MP for Batley and Spen – both former professional actors with experience of the theatre industry – the cross-party group has been founded to support the resilience and relevance of theatre in the UK for audiences, its workforce and society.
In 2018, the theatre industry saw audiences of over 34m with ticket revenue of nearly £1.28bn, from a total of 62,945 performances across the UK. Theatre is part of the creative industries, which are the fastest growing part of the UK’s economy, contributing over £101 billion in Gross Value Added.
The APPG’s Statement of Purpose is to identify and debate potential opportunities and issues for the theatre industry in the UK, and increase fellow parliamentarians’ understanding of the theatre and performing arts at a national and local level.
UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT) have been appointed the secretariat, providing organisational, staff time and strategic support. They will also be bringing together a group of theatre organisations from across the UK to act as a sounding board and help ensure that a wide range of theatre topics and issues are suggested for the APPG to look into.
Giles Watling MP said:
‘It is my hope that this APPG will do more to promote domestic theatre in Parliament. As a former actor, I know that we have a thriving and successful theatre industry in the UK, but we need to do more to support this sector and improve the offer for those working within it.
I am also pleased that UK Theatre and SOLT are acting as our secretariat and their expertise will be essential. I hope that all other interested parties will get in touch to work with us, to help put domestic theatre on a higher level here in Parliament – doing so can only be a positive for our theatre, production teams, and actors.’
Tracey Brabin MP said:
‘I love theatre and I know the massive impact it has on culture, wellbeing and learning in our country. Therefore I’m absolutely delighted to be part of the APPG for Theatre. Now more than ever, we need politicians to hear from theatres and support them with the challenges they face.
I hope we can be instrumental in keeping access to theatre open for all, wherever they live. The support we’ve received so far has been amazing, particularly from UK Theatre and SOLT for providing the secretariat.’
Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, said:
‘The UK theatre industry is world-renowned for the work it produces, and contributes hugely to this country’s global cultural influence, Soft Power and economic standing. It is fantastic that this APPG has been created, and UK Theatre and SOLT hope that it serves to highlight the need for Government support to ensure the continued resilience of the industry and ensure the sector’s voice is heard.’
A formal launch of the new APPG will be held in the Autumn.