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Shabana has written the the Minister for Digital and Culture regarding support for regional theatres.

The letter, written alongside four Labour MP colleagues, highlights the unique and high-quality programmes provided by the largest regional theatres in the UK.

Birmingham Hippodrome, located in Birmingham Ladywood, is one of the largest regional theatres outside of London.

The letter calls for specific Government support to ensure the continued support for regional theatres in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the letter, MPs call for a meeting with the Minister, Caroline Dineage MP, to discuss the matter.

Shabana has previously called upon the Government to back the creative sector during this difficult time, including writing in support of museums and art galleries.

You can read the letter in full below.

Letter to the Minister for Digital and Culture

Dear Ms Dinenage,

Government support for regional theatres

We are writing as constituency MPs for five of our nation’s largest and most successful regional theatres; Birmingham Hippodrome, Marlowe Theatre (Canterbury), Mayflower Theatre (Southampton), Newcastle Theatre Royal and Norwich Theatre.

These venues are unique in being independent charities and delivering broad and wide-reaching programmes of work of the highest quality without drawing on regular public subsidy. Their not-for-profit business models are among the most innovative and entrepreneurial in the arts sector, using highly sophisticated commercial approaches rather than public funding to deliver massive public benefit as well as economic and social impact in their respective cities.

Each of the five venues sit outside of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio yet support the distribution of a huge amount of publicly funded touring work.

As theatres across the country closed in March, these venues’ publicly funded peers were able to rely on an ongoing cushion of existing grant funding income whilst these venues saw almost all their income disappear. Furthermore, Arts Council England ring-fenced the majority of its emergency funding for its NPOs, leaving our cities’ major venues without any access to sector-specific large-scale emergency funding.

We hope you will see, as we do, that there is an unfortunate inequality here and agree that large-scale emergency funding should be made available to these organisations that have delivered maximum public value with zero cost to the public purse.  Please find attached a report with further information.

These theatres have succeeded in being self-reliant and not drawing on public subsidy and as a result they are now hardest hit in this time of crisis.  Now more than ever before they need help from government in order to survive a prolonged closure period which will allow them to stabilise and return to a position where they do not need ongoing subsidy.

It is also clear to us that it is not financially viable for these venues to operate whilst social distancing measures remain in place, therefore they will be among the last businesses to be able to return to full scale operation.  On this basis we also endorse these theatres’ call for a specific sector intervention for all theatres.

As such, we request a joint (virtual) meeting with you, along with representatives of these theatres, to discuss what can be done going forward.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Clive Lewis MP, Norwich South

Shabana Mahmood MP, Birmingham Ladywood

Rosie Duffield MP, Canterbury

Alan Whitehead MP, Southampton Test

Chi Onwurah MP, Newcastle Central


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