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Why won't Culture Secretary Maria Miller meet arts leaders?

22 November 2012

Equity President Malcolm Sinclair has written to the Guardian echoing statements made by Danny Boyle and Sir Nicholas Hytner about the state of regional theatre, and expressing concern that not only has Culture Secretary Maria Miller (left) refused to meet with leading theatre directors but she has dismissed Equity's request for a meeting also.
 
In his letter Malcolm writes: "Both Boyle and Hytner are bang on the money at the threat posed to the very existence of these companies by local authority funding cuts and the devastating consequences to the industry if these companies go under. Local authorities, most of whom have been proud supporters of their local theatres, are being put in an impossible position by demands coming from central government for more stringent economies.

"It was a shock, if not a surprise, that the new minister, Maria Miller, has refused a meeting with these leaders of our profession. A shock, because of the tremendous artistic records of these directors', but not a surprise, as we too at Equity were given a similar dismissive brush off. We wrote to congratulate the new minister on her appointment and suggested an early meeting to discuss these and other crucial issues in the industry. We got the most disdainful response.
 
"It is worth restating how valuable our work is to the country. The economic benefits that our industry generates are clear and this is quite separate from its cultural and, dare I say, spiritual value. Once these local venues are gone, they cannot be replaced. They can economise no more: companies have got smaller, productions are shared and there are fewer of them. The former minister, Jeremy Hunt, made no great impression and it is dismaying, to say the least, that the new minister seems similarly out of touch. May we urge the minister to get a grip and, at the very least, meet with those of us who can warn her and her department of the disaster that is facing us."  

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