The newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Theatre held its first Oral Evidence session today (Wednesday 4 March). Some of the theatre industry’s leading figures attended the session at the House of Lords, for discussion on the theme ‘how British theatre works’.
Topics covered in this first session included emerging theatre industry trends, how APPG Officers and fellow parliamentarians could better support the theatre sector, and an examination of legislation affecting theatre industry issues.
Representing the international sector were Stella Kanu (Executive Director of London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT)) and Robert Noble (Deputy Managing Director for Cameron Mackintosh). The commercial sector was represented by producer Eleanor Lloyd (Eleanor Lloyd Productions), and Nick Salmon (Director of Playful Productions). Stephanie Sirr, CEO of Nottingham Playhouse, spoke on behalf of the subsidised sector, and producer Joanna Crowley (of 1927) represented small and medium companies.
This was the first of four Oral Evidence sessions planned for 2020 for the APPG for Theatre, which launched in October 2019 to support the resilience and relevance of theatre in the UK for audiences, its offstage and onstage workforce, and society.
The sessions aim to give parliamentarians a more detailed understanding of the theatre industry, bringing them into closer contact with the theatre workforce across the country. Over the summer of 2020, evidence from these sessions will be collated into a report, which will act a springboard for further conversations about supporting theatre.
Giles Watling, Chair of the Theatre APPG and Conservative MP for Clacton, gave an introductory speech at the session. Talking after the event, he said:
‘I am pleased that we have already had our first evidence session, with such a great line up of speakers coming in to address Parliamentarians. Ever since we held our launch last year, colleagues have been contacting me regularly to express their interest in our group – such support is really encouraging. It is time now to turn that support into action. This first session, and those that follow, will allow us to establish what more the Government can do to help support the industry and promote UK theatre at home and abroad. Then we can go out and make that case to Ministers, which should lead to positive action.’
Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre Chief Executive Julian Bird, who contributed an overview of the theatre industry in 2020, said:
‘Today’s session was lively and engaging – thank you to the industry for their support in making this happen. It provided the Theatre APPG with a sound, up-to-date understanding of theatre in the UK including how it operates, the trends we are seeing, the things theatres can achieve, current challenges and future opportunities. The report we’re collating from all four sessions will act as a stepping stone to further make the case for our thriving and world leading theatre industry in the UK and its crucial role as one of the Creative Industries, which contribute £111.7bn GVA to the UK economy.’