Friday, February 22, 2013

In Battalions

Here it is...

The report below is being launched today at the Independent Theatre Council AGM at Soho Theatre. This is the public version, now available for download. 

For those of you visiting this blog for the first time, In Battalions was a response to comments made to me by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey at a Writers' Guild event in Parliament in December.

Mr Vaizey said that Arts Council cuts made since April 2012 were having 'no effect' on theatres, and that new plays and playwriting were 'thriving'. I knew this wasn't true, but didn't have much evidence outside of my own experience to argue with him. So I set out to find some. To Mr Vaizey's credit, he did say he would consider any evidence to the contrary which I could send him. 

I was amazed at the response I got from the industry. The blog article that I wrote about my efforts went viral and I was inundated with offers of help from theatres and theatre-makers across the country. The whole thing really seemed to touch a nerve.

The report was researched and written by me, with assistance from Helen Campbell Pickford, a PhD student at Oxford University, who came forward to volunteer to help me. Neither of us was paid, both of us fitted it in around other work, and nor do we now have any marketing budget to get it circulated. 

At the time of writing, Ed Vaizey's office have had a copy for ten days and we are awaiting a response.

If you think what you read here is important, please send it on to other people. You can either download your own PDF using the button on the document's Scribd page, or you can send people the link. There are also buttons over on Scribd to Tweet it and Facebook it. 

Apart from that, I hope the report and the data and testimonies within it speak for themselves. It's rather grim reading, but it is important. Please help us to get it out there.

There is also a press release with some further copy, and summarising the main findings, which can be downloaded from Scribd here. Please note that there is also some further quotable material in my introduction to the report on page 6.

You can follow the reaction to the report live via my Twitter account @finkennedy or using the hashtag #inbattalions  

Further enquiries can be emailed to me at finkennedy@yahoo.co.uk

7 comments:

Fin Kennedy said...

If you are worried by the findings of this report, it is your democratic right to contact Culture Minister Ed Vaizey to express your concerns. You could also ask him to make the case to the Treasury on your behalf not to reduce funding to the arts any further. You can write to Mr Vaizey at House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, email him at vaizeye@parliament.uk or Tweet him at @edvaizey

It can also be effective to contact the Culture Select Committee, they can hold ministers to account: Elizabeth Flood, Committee Clerk, Culture, Media and Sport Committee 7 Millbank House of Commons London SW1P 3JA or cmscom@parliament.uk

Fin Kennedy said...

Two responses from Vaizey so far, neither directly to me. In Charlotte Higgins article (here gu.com/p/3exzg/tw) he says: "Theatre remains extremely well-funded in England. I am confident new writing of high quality will always have a chance to be both commissioned and performed."

In an email to a fellow playwright he says: "Thanks. As I say theatre remains very well funded. The arts council held a meeting last week with 40 playwrights to explain how they could access funds. There is no evidence of any impact on new writing."

This is two weeks after having received and (presumably) at least flicked through my report.

Drop him a line yourself if you like: ed.vaizey.mp@parliament.uk

Fin Kennedy said...

Oh, and he is also nicely taken to task by another playwright here, over his appropriation of the meeting of playwrights he mentions above: wp.me/p2r4zT-8b

Kerry Hood said...

Hi Fin,

As 'recently' as ten years ago, when I lived for a short while in London following my Soho play, there seemed to be heaps of opportunities for new writing in terms of attachments, r&d time, readings, even - steady on - full commissions. I've had time away for health; returning feels like entering a ghost town, with the occasional culture minister passing through like tumbleweed. In my region alone in the last weeks the Brewhouse has been wiped off the map. If we lose local access to arts venues then people who don't usually see theatre will never see theatre.

Thank you for taking the time and passion to create this report. Yes, I will write to Mr Vaisey. I read your article the day after I started work on a new play and found the comment from Max Stafford-Clark particularly hard but necessary to hear. I find it difficult being too old, too female and too lyrical (!) but for those starting out it will be hard to get past the workshop stage.

Best wishes.

Eric Priezkalns said...

Good work Fin - well done!

katharine kavanagh said...

Because I know how easy it is to decide something
must be done, but how difficult it can sometimes
be to DO it - there's a link to a template letter to
Mr Vaizey here https://bitly.com/136VvXK, and huge
admiration and congratulations to Fin in my heart.

Andi Anderson said...

Congratulations! This is the best thing, Thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting information.