Hytner Joins Funding Row; Deal Struck for Seven-Day Week at the National

News   Hytner Joins Funding Row; Deal Struck for Seven-Day Week at the National
National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner has added his voice to the growing furor over funding cuts imposed by Arts Council England (ACE), the arts development agency.

Speaking during the National's press conference — during which he announced future productions — Hytner condemned ACE's shake-up of arts subsidy in England as "a terrible mess."

While accepting that there were difficult decicions to be made and that some cuts might be necessary, he said that ACE's proposals had been "ill thought through."

Hytner also revealed that he had lobbied on behalf of three organizations whose funding had been cut extensively or completely – the National Student Drama Festival, the Bush Theatre (where Neil LaBute's double bill of plays, Helter Skelter and Land of the Dead, receive their U.K. premiere Jan. 17) and Exeter's Northcott Theatre.

The decision concerning the Northcott, where Hytner started his career, is among the most baffling as it only recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment. Exeter City Council is considering making a legal challenge to the decision.

Meanwhile, Hytner said that while he was not in principle against all cuts, nor against the system of Government funding through an agency, he believed the current situation to be "a terrible mess." "You read and hear a huge amount (from ACE) which is, bluntly, bollocks. A hell of a lot of people in positions of power and influence don't just believe the bollocks, they live the bollocks. They complicate rather than simplify. I think there is a very simple proposition here. Good theatre – and for 'theatre' read the performing arts in general – deserves public investment."

Hytner also revealed that he has achieved his long-standing ambition of opening the National on Sundays. After striking a deal with staff, acting and musician unions, the National's largest two theatres will be open for business seven days a week, although only for matinee performances on Sundays.

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