Written evidence submitted by the Almeida
Theatre Company Ltd (arts 182)
1. THE ALMEIDA
The Almeida is a 325 seat theatre in the heart
of Islington, North London. The Almeida Theatre Company produces
a diverse range of British and international drama with some of
the world's best artists and has developed a reputation as a local
theatre with an international profile.
The Almeida currently receives regular annual
funding from Arts Council England in order to support the costs
of offering seats at accessible ticket prices, while frequently
presenting large scale productions, in tandem with a high impact
education and community programme (Almeida Projects).
The current Arts Council grant equates to 25%
of the Almeida's annual turnover of £3.9 million, with the
theatre raising another £1 million each year through its
wide range of fundraising activities. In order to break even each
year, the theatre has to play to an average of 85%. Last year
it sold 90,351 tickets.
In total, the theatre raises £2.81 for
every £1 received in public subsidy.
In 2001 the theatre received £2.25 million
from the Arts Council Lottery to fund 50% of the overall £5.5
million cost of redeveloping the theatre, which re-opened in May
2. THE PROPOSED
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture,
the Olympics, Media and Sport, proposes a new system of support
for the arts, following the "American model," relying
much more heavily on private philanthropy.
This makes no economic sense for the following
(1) The current American system is failing; private
companies are cutting back drastically on their philanthropy in
the face of the global recession, resulting in the closure of
countless arts bodies.
(2) As any private arts donor will confirm, the
incentive and desire to support diminishes in proportion to any
reduction of public subsidy. They emphatically do not see themselves
as the principal source of funding , but rather as an "add-on,"
investing in a cultural industry with a world-wide reputation.
(3) Perhaps the most important of all, the arts
sector is one of the highest growth industries in the country.
Not only providing thousands of jobs (creating over two million
new ones between 1997 and 2007) but also returning far more to
the exchequer than is invested in subsidy. The theatre in London
alone paid back £76 million in VAT in 2008as against
an Arts Council spend on theatre of £54 million.
These figures, set alongside the value of tourism£86
billion in 2007(which in huge part is due to the nations
arts, culture and heritage) clearly demonstrate the counter-productive,
short-sighted nature of the Government's current proposals.
None of this of course takes into account the
destructive long-term effects the proposals would have on both
the nation's culture and the health of society as a whole. There
is a government funding cut "tipping point" of around
10-15%, when beyond this amount the arts landscape in England
would change drastically with the loss of many arts organisations
and the country losing its reputation as a world leader in the
The considerable benefits the arts can bring
in other areassocial, economic, and to general well beingbegin
with the quality of the art itself. And this country has invested
in artistic excellence for the long term. Any repair would require
significant investment more than the cuts proposed at a later
date to return to the same levels of arts productivity and quality
that this country should enjoy. We welcome the proposed redistribution
of Lottery funds to provide a greater share to the arts in order
to mitigate some of the proposed funding government shortfall.
3. FURTHER BACKGROUND
The Almeida Theatre is part of an industry-wide
consortium of 12 "Off-West End" London Theatres. The
consortium comprises: Almeida Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre,
Bush Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Greenwich Theatre, Hampstead Theatre,
Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Court Theatre, Soho Theatre, Theatre
Royal Stratford East, Tricycle Theatre and Young Vic.
In many senses, these theatres form the powerhouse
of British theatre and a cornerstone of London's reputation as
a cultural capital, a role recognised in terms of public investment.
The combined annual turnover of the consortium
is £28 million.
For every £1 of ACE investment,
the consortium generates on average another £1.65.
The 12 consortium theatres sell around
one million tickets per yearmore than the National or Royal
10% of London households have attended
one of the consortium theatre in the past three years and we serve
residents in all 33 London Boroughs.
The consortium employ over 1,500 people
The consortium theatre's productions
feed London's commercial theatre, boosting the visitor economy,
while our international tours and co-productions plus a strong
media profile help position London as a centre of vibrant world
The consortium is already working closely
together to see where theatres can work collectively to either
reduce our own individual costs or increase revenue. This includes
opportunities for joint purchasing, joint marketing, sharing administration,
staff and resources, sharing knowledge and expertise.