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 Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 11:11 GMT
Call for 1bn theatre investment
Madonna in Up For Grabs
Stars like Madonna have kept the West End busy
Britain's theatres need 1bn of investment in order to continue attracting audiences, a leading theatre official has said.

Peter Longman, director of the Theatres Trust, said London's West End and regional playhouses required the massive funding to keep them up to standard.

In the trust's December newsletter, Mr Longman claimed about a third of UK theatres had not received major investment for a decade.

Reported in The Stage newspaper, Mr Longman writes: "I would say the total cost of bringing our mainstream theatres up to scratch and accessible is well in excess of (1bn)."

Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof
Gwyneth Paltrow acts in the West End.
Just a year ago, the West End appeared to be in trouble as many shoppers and tourists stayed away for fears of a terrorist attack following 11 September.

Audiences initially dropped by up to 16% but later recovered.

This year an influx of Hollywood stars including Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gillian Anderson to the West End stage has helped to revive the interest of casual theatregoers.

Despite a relatively successful year, however, many in the theatre world believe it is grossly underfunded.

Committed

Two weeks ago Andre Ptaszynski, chief executive of Really Useful Theatres, said West End theatres needed more than 200m of investment.

In his role as chief executive of the Theatres Trust, Mr Longman heads up a body committed to protecting the future of theatres.

It has appealed to the Arts Council of England and the Heritage Lottery Fund not to "turn off the tap" to building projects.

He said grant applications to the Lottery fund were set to exceed 100m.

A spokesman for the Arts Council told The Stage that the organisation remained committed to capital funding.

He said: "We need to make it very clear to government of the (importance of) long-term continuing Lottery funding for the arts."

See also:

30 Dec 02 | Entertainment
10 Dec 01 | Entertainment
28 Dec 01 | Entertainment
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