The West End always needs new talent and new money. Getting the money has traditionally been the preserve of individual producers, and one of the major problems for new producers is gathering together enough people willing to take a chance on a novice who will also be presenting, as often as not, new writing too.
Theatreshare is a new concept: far from making investment in the West End an arcane and exclusive business, it exists to make it easy. It is asking for £2 million of funds to invest in what the Board of Directors considers worthwhile shows - a mixture of innovative new talent and more reliable, established projects and people.
As Theatreshare's brochure makes clear, investment in theatre is a notoriously risky business, but hopefully the combined talents of the board will make this as balanced a risk as possible.
Besides which, investing in theatre is fun, and carries with it some of the glamour of first night parties and meeting the stars. To be fair, the level of glamour depends on the level of investment but the simple fact of association with a show will give many people a thrill.
The company's principal objective is to combine the development and production of new shows and its access to Really Useful Theatres' portfolio, so as to generate a profitable return from involvement with carefully chosen productions.
The Chairman of the company is Stephen Fry - a user-friendly public face - and among the directors are Andrew Lloyd Webber (as major a theatre owner as he is a composer) and veteran impresario Michael Codron. Also on the board are businesswoman Nicola Horlick and Andre Patszynski (Chief Executive of Really Useful Theatres), while producer Nica Burns - who was artistic director of the Donmar from 1983 to 1989 - and director Trevor Nunn are consultants.
For further details look at Theatreshare's web site: www.theatreshare.co.uk.
—by Paul Webb Theatrenow