In 2008, the British Theatre Consortium, of which I’m a founder member, were commissioned by the Arts Council to carry out some research into the effectiveness of their ‘new writing’ policies over the last decade. The project was, in fact, split between us and a group comprising Emma Dunton, Robin Nelson and Hetty Shand. Broadly, we were looking at the larger building-based companies and they at the community and touring end of the industry. My particular responsibility on the report was the statistical fifth chapter, which crunched the various returns we got back from the theatres about their programmes over the period. I was also responsible for the layout and look of the report.
The resulting reports make for extremely interesting reading. It reveals that new playwriting in England since 2003 has been in rude health:
- 47% of the repertoire consists of work that involves new writing in some form
- the box office performance of new plays was consistently in the 60-70% range, peaking at 68% in 2007-8
- 9 out of 10 tickets for new plays were for plays in main houses
- A quarter of all performances of new plays were in theatres seating 500 or more
The report has already achieved considerable coverage. You can read these articles online:
- David Edgar on the report for the Writer’s Guild
- Lalayn Baluch on the report for The Stage
- David Edgar on the report for The Guardian
- Mark Lawson in The Guardian
The British Theatre Conference are planning events to continue and deepen the debates raised by our reports which will be publicised here.
The full report can be read HERE.