Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1

1996 (to St Brides Institute) N/ATo refurbish café
October 1997£90,000 To convert building into theatre and purchase of equipment
January 1998£12,000 Towards costs of collected works of Billy the Kid in July/Aug 1998
June 1998£5,000 Towards audience development strategy for lunchtime theatre and new writing at the Bridewell
July 2000£550To visit Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago to view Ballard of Little Jo for a possible presentation in London
December 2002£30,000 Towards production costs of Notes across a small pond in Autumn 2003 (perf is 29 Oct—15 Nov)
June 2003£11,561 Youth Theatre—Towards the costs of a series of Musical Theatre workshops for up to 60 young people aged 13-26 taking place between September 2003 and July 2004 and leading to small scale theatre performances at the end of each term.
June 2003£5,980 Disabled Access—Purchase and installation of a replacement stair lift to enhance disabled access to the theatre
September 2003£16,600 Consultancy for options appraisal on future home for Bridewell



  Musical Theatre remains one of the most popular forms of entertainment in England and is an area that employs a considerable number of performers and musicians. 24% of the population have attended a piece of Musical Theatre in the last twelve months (Arts in England, Skelton et al, Arts Council England, London, 2002). Evidence suggests that the audience for musicals has increased by a higher rate than for other performing art forms over the last 10 years and that people who attend Musicals are broadly ranged across socio-economic groups.

  Musical Theatre refers to a body of work where the text (or "book") is the primary theatrical force alongside the musical score. Sometimes a production is entirely sung, sometimes interspersed with dialogue. Musical Theatre embraces the classic American Musical tradition alongside the European Operetta tradition. Dance is often a key component of the staging. Musical Theatre is a hybrid art form where a number of genres come together.

  Within a wider context, Musical Theatre is part of a wider range of theatrical work referred to as Music Theatre, which includes Opera at one end of the spectrum and Musical Theatre at the other. Music Theatre represents a very broad range of work defined as a partnership between Music and Drama where the combination of the two elements form a theatrical presentation in which the whole is more powerful than its constituent parts.

  Musical Theatre is a significant genre, not simply because of its wide appeal but as an area where new experimental work is being developed. It is also noteworthy that new Musicals have been championed by Black and minority ethnic artists and companies. In the commercial sector both Bombay Dreams and The Lion King are significant, while in the subsidised sector NITRO and Theatre Royal Stratford East have both contributed towards the development of the form and widening audiences for Musical Theatre.

  Arts Council England engages with Musical Theatre in a number of ways, which we describe further in this paper.


  The 1980s and 1990s witnessed not only an explosion in the popularity of commercial musicals in the West End but also tours of these musicals around the country. This included new musicals. At that time the Arts Council believed that the commercial sector would provide sufficient investment in new musicals to ensure the development of the art-form. The Arts Council, in the context of the restricted funding levels of the period, therefore chose not to support the development of new Musical Theatre.

  However, it was recognised that middle scale touring companies needed support to enable access, and the Arts Council funded some activity, notably The New Shakespeare Company based at the Regent's Park Theatre. Many regularly funded theatres staged musicals in that period, but these tended to be classic musicals rather than new musicals.

  The advent of Lottery funds allowed a reassessment of this policy and in 1999, the Arts Council developed a partnership with the Cameron Mackintosh Foundation to offer a one-off opportunity to organisations in receipt of A4E (Lottery) awards towards commissioning costs of new work for production. The Cameron Mackintosh Foundation devoted £350,000 to this initiative and several of the beneficiaries developed Music or Musical Theatre projects, including a newly commissioned pub opera in the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival; 60 young people creating a new piece of musical theatre in Millfield; Musical Theatre writing workshops at Theatre Royal Stratford East and the use of new technology in West Yorkshire Playhouse's Singin' In the Rain, which eventually moved to the National Theatre and then the West End.

  In 2000-01 the Arts Council partnered the Theatre Investment Fund, contributing £85,000 since that time to new producer bursaries. These are not exclusive to producers of Musicals but several of the recipients are working in this field.

  The 2001 Theatre Review also enabled an increase in resources for Musical Theatre, both through a limited number of specialist companies (see below) and through the core funding of regional organisations such as Leicester Haymarket, Sheffield Theatres, Plymouth Theatre Royal, the Watermill, Theatre Royal Stratford East who were notable producers of musicals. (See Annex A.)


Through the regularly funded portfolio of arts organisations

  Each of the four large-scale regularly funded Opera companies embrace Musical Theatre within their core programme of Music Theatre. They have produced a range of work at the Musical Theatre end of the spectrum. A list of recent projects is given at Annex B.

  The Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre both have a strong tradition of producing high quality Musicals and Music Theatre. Some productions including Les Miserables (RSC) and Anything Goes (NT) have subsequently transferred to London's West End under commercial management. Such transfers have contributed towards the overall economy of both companies.

  Eighteen per cent of Arts Council regularly funded theatre companies produced a modern musical (post-1960) in 2001-02. Some, such as Sheffield Theatres have replaced the Christmas pantomime with a musical production. Annex A includes a list of Arts Council funded theatres that are producing Musical theatre as part of their programme.

Grants for national touring

  Between 1996 and 2002, the Arts Council has supported a number of touring productions of Musical Theatre works. Funds in this area have been allocated from two main sources—the Arts Council's National Touring Programme and the Barclays Stage Partners Scheme. Total funds in excess of £500k have been invested in this area. A table showing the detail of this investment is shown at Annex C.

Through funding for the development of new work

  In March 2003, the Arts Council launched a new suite of funding programmes under the broad heading of Grants for the Arts. This replaces all previous project funding streams for the Arts Council and Regional Arts Boards. The programme has three key strands:

    —  Grants for Individual Artists;

    —  Grants for organisations, and;

    —  Grants for National Touring.

  This funding stream allows recipients to develop work and experiment, for instance through workshops, without being committed to produce a piece of work. For new projects that involve collaborations between artists this development process is essential.

  Musical Theatre has equal access to project funds alongside the full range of other art-forms. This is a major step forward in the Arts Council's relationship with the sector. In the first six months of this programme, the majority of applications to the Grants for the Arts scheme for the development of new Musical Theatre, were sent to the London office. A total of five awards have been made receiving total investment of over £50,000. The detail of these awards is listed at Annex D.

  It is important to emphasise the situation of Musical Theatre within the wider family of Music Theatre. ACE has made substantial investment in the development, commissioning, creation and touring of new Music Theatre (including new Chamber Opera, and a range of new work involving music and theatre).


  It is clear that there are several key issues for the Arts Council to consider in the development of the Musical Theatre sector:

    —  Developing new musicals.

    —  The relationship between the subsidised and commercial sector.

    —  The infrastructure for promoters of new musicals.

    —  Skills development and networking opportunities for practitioners in this sector.

Developing new musicals

  Art-form risk and experiment tends to occur on the small to middle scale in all theatrical forms. There are a number of organisations which have identified Musical Theatre as a specific area for development. In the last three years we have increased our investment into these significantly. These are:
Arts Council funding2000-01 2003-04% change
Battersea Arts Centre*126,600 425,064236%
The Bridewell Theatre550 30,000project awards
Greenwich Theatre060,000
NITRO144,165220,000 53%
Theatre Royal Stratford East*431,461 749,74974% *

  *Increased investment not exclusively for Musical Theatre development.

  Other agencies that have a role in developing musical theatre include:Dance UK, International Festival of Musical Theatre in Cardiff, Mercury Musical Development, The Performing Rights Society Foundation (PRSF) andThe Theatre Investment Fund (TIF). A very brief snapshot of the work of each of these organisations is given at Annex E.

  Black and minority ethnic practitioners are having success in attracting new audiences to the theatre as they develop new musicals. For instance a musical such as Da Boyz (Theatre Royal Stratford East) uses the influence of black street culture, such as hip hop, is popular with young, black audiences. Nitrobeat brought a young, predominantly black, audience to the South Bank.

  Alongside core funding, Grants for the Arts will remain a key mechanism to enable small organisations to access support for developing work.

Partnerships between the commercial and subsidised sectors

  Partnerships between the two sectors are one of the main strengths of Musical Theatre. Collaborations can take various forms, ranging from seed-funding a new project, co-producing, and commercial exploitation of a show produced in the subsidised sector. Much of this work focuses on large-scale musicals rather than with smaller scale projects.

  Five of the 17 musicals currently running in London's West-End (source: Time Out, Sept 24-October 1st 2003) have origins in the subsidised sector. Successful productions can generate lucrative returns and the most notable example of this is the RSC's production of Les Miserables, which at its height in the mid 1990s generated approximately £1 million per year to the RSC in exploitation income. This is not typical of the levels of return that most transfers can expect.

  The National Theatre benefited from a £1 million trust established by Cameron Mackintosh to enable it to produce musicals. Many of these have enjoyed commercial success in the West End and abroad. The National Theatre continues to place a proportion of profits from commercial exploitation of its musicals into its Musicals fund.

  The 1990's witnessed the development of the Musicals Alliance between Plymouth Theatre Royal, The Mayflower in Southampton and the New Victoria, Woking. The concept was to generate large-scale musicals to tour, allowing subsidised producers to share the risk of these with commercial producers. Two musicals (A Chorus Line and Smokey Joe's Café) were produced through this partnership.

  Commercial producers will occasionally put seed-funding into the development of new musicals by a subsidised producer. For instance Jerry Springer—The Opera received a small investment from commercial producers at its outset, which alongside Arts Council funding, allowed the first workshop to take place at Battersea Arts Centre.

  Arts Council England has recently launched an initiative to strengthen and support relationships between the two theatre sectors. This does not exclusively relate to musicals but it is anticipated that significant partnerships between the two sectors will continue. The initiative includes the commission and publication of Relationships between subsidised and commercial theatre by Robert Cogo-Fawcett and a partnership with the Theatre Investment Fund to run seminars, a helpline and a mentoring programme for subsidised producers considering working with commercial partners. The aim is to strengthen confidence and skills of subsidised theatre producers for developing and negotiating these partnerships.

Strengthening the infrastructure for:

    —  promoters of new musicals.

    —  skills development and networking opportunities for practitioners in the Musical Theatre sector. Arts Council England believes that these areas would benefit from further strengthening. The last 10 years have seen a growing number of Higher Education institutions offering professional training, specifically within Musical Theatre, listed as Annex F.

  However once practitioners have embarked on a career in musical theatre there is little infrastructure to help them develop their business or creative skills further.

  Arts Council England is convinced of the artistic value of Musical Theatre and is committed to its development, particularly in the areas of new writing and partnerships with the commercial sector. Over recent years, in a small way, the Arts Council has enabled the sector to develop—both in terms of innovation and infrastructure as described above. We will continue to actively seek ways in which we can develop partnerships with others to help further develop the sector.


  Arts Council England announced its budgets for 2003-06 in March 2003. In 2004-06, the only new source of funding for the musical theatre sector is through our open application programme, Grants for the Arts.

  We are currently evaluating the impact of the £25 million invested in theatre through the Theatre Review. We believe that this has had a profoundly beneficial effect on theatre in this country. However, we were clear at the time of the settlement that it could not address all areas of theatre.

  We are about to go into the next Government Spending Review in a tough economic climate. We expect to hear the outcome in Summer 2004. We will then know the resources available to the arts in 2005-06 and 2007-08 and be in a position to determine the areas in which we can expand our support.

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