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Equity, TMA and The Stage combine for anti-cuts campaign

28 January 2013

Equity members will play a leading part in a nation-wide campaign with theatre audiences aimed at persuading local councils not to cut support for their theatres, the Equity Council has agreed.

Most theatres have faced central Government cuts, and there may be more to come, but the immediate threat is cuts from local authorities.

The campaign, to be known as My Theatre Matters! and to be launched this Spring by Equity, the Theatrical Management Association and The Stage, will ask audience members to make the case for council support for their theatres.

Central Government cuts to councils appear to be targeted at metropolitan districts and London boroughs — the areas most likely to fund a local theatre — and are having an impact across all local authority activities.

Somerset, Newcastle and Sheffield have already announced arts cuts for 2013 and since 2010 councils have made bigger reductions to arts spending than in other areas of activity.
The purpose of the campaign will be to encourage theatres to mobilise their audiences to voice their support for their local venue, particularly to local government members and officers. The campaign will develop a national database of concerned audience members who could be mobilised for further action locally, regionally or nationally.

Audience Members will be asked to do two things:
•    Send a postcard to their Council Leader saying how much they value the Council’s investment in their local theatre
•    Sign up to the campaign website with their email address and postcode so they can be contacted again in the future about issues in their own area, further afield or nationally.

There will be leaflets, postcards, posters, pin badges, advertisements and articles in programmes, curtain call announcements, a public website, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a toolkit for theatres with tips on how best to engage their audiences and weekly coverage in The Stage.

The TMA’s involvement enables Equity branches to build alliances with their local theatres and work with managers on approaches to audiences.
Equity centrally will draft campaign materials such as postcards and leaflets and encourage members working in theatres to support the campaign, for example by putting their by-line on an article for a programme or making a curtain call speech.

The campaign will run for the whole of 2013 with the objective of influencing local authority budgeting for 2014-15.
Other organisations we hope to get involved include the Musicians’ Union, BECTU, Independent Theatre Council, the Theatres Trust, the Federation of Scottish Theatre, Creu Cymru and programme publisher John Good.

• Read more about decisions made at the January meeting of the Equity Council.

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