By Olivia Turnbull
Among 1979 and 1997, 1 / 4 of Britain’s local theaters closed their doorways ceaselessly. those who survived stumbled on themselves regularly at the verge of collapse, compelled to considerably lessen their courses and close down for prolonged classes. Bringing Down the home examines how and why this hindrance happened, from the British government’s scant regard for the humanities after global conflict II to the onset of Thatcherism and its long-lasting results at the theater undefined. This well timed learn for theater and cultural heritage students finds a catalog of routine difficulties that ensured the fragility of the British local stage.
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Extra info for Bringing Down the House: The Crisis in Britain's Regional Theatres
In regions where a levy was added for the arts, the funds raised would primarily go to music festivals or orchestras, such as Manchester’s acclaimed Hallé Orchestra and Liverpool’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Apparently, local councils could more easily accept these as civic amenities than they could a theatre. Two years after the act was passed, the Arts Council made little attempt to hide its dismay at the poor response, commenting that ‘the examples of civic aid to local theatres remain a disappointing drop in the ocean of need’ (ACGB 1950/1: 25).
Not only were they less forthcoming with their money than might have been wished, but few local authorities were interested in taking advice from the Arts Council on how they should spend any money they raised. In return, the Arts Council did not act as diplomatically as it might have in this matter. Despite announcing that it set the provision of advice to local authorities ‘as one of its most urgent tasks’, alongside the creation of a new post ‘to concentrate on new regional experiments, particularly those sponsored by local authorities’ (ACGB 1948/9: 5), it undermined its commitment by cancelling the appointment after only a year.
It didn’t help that the surrounding countryside, rather than being home to heavy industry, was a sparsely populated agricultural area and had a limited box office. The enterprise was a great artistic and popular success, but still cost the Arts Council £12,000 annually, a heavy toll that continued to rise despite efforts to reduce the amount of time the theatre went black by introducing a second company in 1948. Under this scheme, one company would be in rehearsal while the other performed at home for two weeks and went touring on the third.