Open Letter to Oliver Dowden, MP

Dear  Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport,

We all want Britain to be leading the way in the world. It is good for everyone, as long as our ideas are of value, and if we share them with compassion and understanding. And it is good for our economy, to be doing so in every field we can.

The Arts in this country fly the British flag all over the world. We know you are as proud of that as we are. Because of this, through our work and influence here and abroad, we add billions to the economy each year, both directly and in indirect multiplier effects.

So many institutions, from schools and colleges to the cream of our national arts companies, have made big and necessary strides over the last few months in improving their digital offerings and ways of working. This is exciting, and important. But we also need to preserve the heart of our culture, our industry, and of the Arts themselves: live performance. Millions of livelihoods depend on it. Mental health and loneliness are improved by it. It is one of the things we as a country have missed more than anything else. In it is the soul of our nation.

We have an exciting proposal that in a single, affordable stroke could show both how we lead the world with our creative ideas, and keep afloat an industry that will be falling off a cliff edge when emergency funding runs out in just a few months. It works at the amateur and professional level (combining them to mutual benefit), is environmentally friendly, covid-safe, and brings out the best in what the Arts can offer. It is also exportable. Good for Britain at home, good for Britain abroad.

The idea is grounded in the belief that world-class, imaginative, live performance is actually only possible when embedded in the community and shared across every stratum of our society. Finding a way to share that, to make it accessible to as many as possible, to be economically and artistically viable, is what has led us here.

Furthermore we know that the future is likely to be more local. Cities are changing, as are work practices, and we are facing an environmental crisis which needs immediate action. When people go out, pandemic or not, they do not want to travel far.

It’s never been more important for the best of our culture, the best of our live entertainment, to be accessible to everyone.

Please watch this short film, outlining the proposal in more detail.

We are ready to go and would be delighted to answer any questions you might have.

Thomas Guthrie

Artistic Director

Music and Theatre for All