PROJECT GRANTS TO THE BRIDEWELL THEATRE
|1996 (to St Brides Institute)
||N/A||To refurbish café
||To convert building into theatre and purchase of equipment
||Towards costs of collected works of Billy the Kid in July/Aug 1998
||Towards audience development strategy for lunchtime theatre and new writing at the Bridewell
|July 2000||£550||To visit Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago to view Ballard of Little Jo for a possible presentation in London
||Towards production costs of Notes across a small pond in Autumn 2003 (perf is 29 Oct15 Nov)
||Youth TheatreTowards 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.
||Disabled AccessPurchase and installation of a replacement stair lift to enhance disabled access to the theatre
||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
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
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
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 sourcesthe 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
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
Developing new musicals.
The relationship between the subsidised and commercial
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 funding||2000-01
|Battersea Arts Centre*||126,600
|The Bridewell Theatre||550
|Theatre Royal Stratford East*||431,461
*Increased investment not exclusively for Musical Theatre
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
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
Commercial producers will occasionally put seed-funding into
the development of new musicals by a subsidised producer. For
instance Jerry SpringerThe 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 developboth 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.