The National Theatre reports record annual takings but issues funding warning
Feature by Jack Foley
THE National Theatre has announced record yearly takings of £80m, more than double those of 10 years ago and nearly £10m more than last year.
But while welcoming the figures, its director Sir Nicholas Hytner has also warned that cuts to funding were “neglecting the arts”.
Speaking to the BBC, Sir Nicholas said that recent government arts cuts were “a kind of madness”, especially in light of the “amount of joy spread by the Cultural Olympiad” and London Festival 2012, the series of national arts events that ran alongside this summer’s Olympics.
“You would hope government policy would be to find ways of capitalising on that for the arts and sport,” he said at the launch of the theatre’s annual report in London.
“There is visible evidence that investment in cultural and sport events brings in its wake confidence and the desire to spend – that case has been made in a spectacular fashion this summer.”
Opining that it was “impossible to say the minuscule savings made by arts cuts are worth it”, he went on to point out that regional theatres faced a “clear and present danger” from the cuts.
The National’s figures did not, however, take into account the Olympics summer as they have only been revealed for the period until March 31, 2012.
But he said that the venue had played to “100% audiences right through the Olympics”.
The theatre’s big successes in the period Sir Nicholas was reporting on were War Horse, which is still selling out, and One Man, Two Guvnors, starring James Corden, which was also the most successful National Theatre Live play to date, seen by 54,000 people in cinemas.
Other successes included an adaptation of Mark Haddon’s book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is currently playing to positive reviews.
However, he once again reiterated the need to protect the theatre in the future by preventing any further arts cuts.
Insisting that the current box office success only meant the theatre would be “OK short-term” he said that it would be “a bad idea to have it that long-term we should earn what we’re currently earning from commercial transfers”.
“It is essential that our funding level is restored to what it was before the cuts,” he stated.
Another of the National’s successes saw 4,000 young people from 300 schools and youth theatres take part in NT Learning’s nationwide youth programme, Connections.