Sunday, October 15, 2006

Letter to Basingstoke Council

Last night we went to see 'Blue on Blue', a play at the Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke. At the end of the performance, the actors explained that the Theatre was about to close due to the withdrawal of funding by the local Council. They pleaded with us to write to the Council's CEO to reverse the decision at the Cabinet meeting the end of this month. Our letter follows.

Mr. Gordon Holdcroft
Chief Executive
Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council
Civic Offices
London Road
Basingstoke RG21 4AH

Dear Mr. Holdcroft,

We are writing to ask you to reconsider your decision to cease funding the Basingstoke Theatre Trust. We believe the consequences of the Theatre closing for an extended period, and then coming under the arm’s length management of the Anvil Trust would be to diminish the arts in Basingstoke.

It seems unclear that a financial case has been made. In all likelihood, the incremental savings would not be large. But the effects in community terms will be significant.

Basingstoke is in competition with a number of neighbouring towns which have a higher cultural profile: Salisbury and Winchester in particular. Basingstoke needs to provide its citizens with a facility which actively sponsors innovative writing and performance, and which nurtures talent. We believe that the Haymarket Theatre under its current management achieves this.

Art has always required public financial support, which recognises the positive community benefits from a thriving cultural landscape. We believe continuing to support the Basingstoke Theatre Trust would be squarely within this tradition and would ask that Cabinet reconsider its decision.

We would be grateful if you could copy this letter to all Councillors (including Cabinet members).

Yours faithfully,

Clare Youell and Nigel Seel