Arts Council England Wields Axe at Hampstead

News   Arts Council England Wields Axe at Hampstead
 
A full-blown theatrical row has broken out around the resignation of Hampstead’s executive director James Williams. Williams, who capped his five-year tenure by seeing the company into its multi-million pound new home at the beginning of the year, was forced out by Arts Council England (ACE), Hampstead’s main funder, it has been widely reported.

  A dearth of commercially successful productions has plunged Hampstead half a million pounds into the red. According to a furious editorial in the London Evening Standard, the ACE only agreed to help if Williams left. The theatre’s board was reportedly split but saw no choice but to comply. There will also be an ACE-led review of the theatre’s procedures and policies. The first change is the postponement of Drew Paultz’s new play All This Stuff. After the current production, Stephen Lowe’s , closes, there will be a hiatus until Hanif Kureishi’s When The Night Begins moves in on March 1.

The money men probably can’t wait until April 21, when Alistair Beaton’s Follow My Leader, a satirical take on the Iraq war, arrives from the Birmingham Rep. Feelgood, Beaton's last political satire for Hampstead, was also the company’s last big hit, transferring for a healthy West End run. Senior management may be hoping that he provides similar financial respite, not only for the health of their theatre, but given ACE’s current mood, for the safety of their jobs.

 

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