Bridewell Theatre to close Jan 2005

Bridewell Theatre to close Jan 2005

It has been announced that the Bridewell Theatre, in city of London, is to close Jan 2005 through lack of funding.

Below is the press release.....

The management and Trustees of the Bridewell Theatre announce that one of London’s best-loved fringe venues is to close in January 2005, exactly eleven years after its opening. During the last decade the Bridewell Theatre Company has earned an international reputation for its work in producing and developing musical theatre. The Bridewell is known for:

· Its many critically acclaimed productions of new works and neglected classics.

· Supporting the work of new young British writers from a variety of social/cultural backgrounds and disciplines.

· Introducing to the UK the new wave American writers, Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa and Jason Robert Brown.

· Its productions of Stephen Sondheim’s work.

· Providing local City workers with slices of cultural refreshment through its regular Lunchbox Theatre series

· A highly regarded youth theatre drawing young people from all the inner-city boroughs.

Ø This year the Bridewell was awarded a grant from Arts Council England to work with young writers and composers on developing new musical theatre.

Ø In a report just completed by theatre consultant Graham Devlin, the Bridewell management were commended for the excellent way in which the theatre has been run.

Carol Metcalfe, Founder and Artistic Director of the Bridewell Theatre convinced the Institute’s governors to allow her to create The Bridewell Theatre venue which opened in 1994 on the site of a derelict, unused Victorian swimming pool beneath St Brides Foundation Institute, Bride Lane, off Fleet St.

The St Bride Foundation Institute was a committed financial supporter of the Bridewell until April this year, when the Institute itself lost funding it had previously received from the Corporation of London. Arts Council England and the Corporation then provided £30,000 each for 2004 (taking the Corporation of London’s contribution over the last 11 years to £45,000) and the Bridewell’s supporters and audiences raised more than £50,000 to keep the theatre open throughout 2004.

But the truth is that with St Bride’s Foundation forced to withdraw funding support we were faced with finding an extra £130,000 per annum. Add the cost of fulfilling the theatre’s artistic remit (and paying basic wages to achieve it) in developing and producing musical theatre, the figure becomes closer to £360,000 per year necessary to continue.

Carol Metcalfe says “Commercial musical theatre can earn millions and is the most visited theatrical genre in the UK. Its vitality ought therefore to concern anyone who cares about theatre. But as an expensive form to produce, new and developing music theatre’s financial needs are large. Our audiences and supporters remain generous but it is unrealistic to ask them to help raise large sums year after year when so much of the money must be spent on simply paying the rent. Much of our achievement has also relied on the commitment and generosity of the artists who have often given their time for little payment because they recognise the importance of our work; but we cannot continue expecting people to work for so little.”

Arts Council England acknowledges that musical theatre development has not received high levels of funding in the UK but has said that it is unable to take on funding the running of the Bridewell Theatre venue. It hopes however to continue to support the Bridewell Theatre Company’s development work, as the company adapts to working without a venue.

The Bridewell Theatre Company plans to continue inspiring musical theatre development and raising the benchmark of the genre, after the closure of the Bridewell Theatre venue.


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