Keir Starmer visits the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre 

© Tom Pullen

This morning (Tuesday 25 June), Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visited The Lyric Hammersmith theatre in West London, to demonstrate the importance of the performing arts and the theatre sector to the UK’s vibrant creative industries.  

Speaking at the event, Sir Keir said, “Today, I have had the pleasure of visiting the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre – a cultural venue deeply embedded into its local West London community through their work on stage as well as extensive creative engagement with young people. The Lyric’s commitment to supporting their local community is testament to the positive impact a thriving theatre sector can and does make in our country. My Labour Party will always stand squarely behind organisations like The Lyric who are so key to driving growth and investment in this country.” 

Theatres are vital parts of local communities: they deliver transformative social good, while providing economic growth to local areas, for every £1 spent on a theatre ticket, £1.40 is spent within local economies.  

The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre uses theatre to provide opportunities for West London’s young people to develop their creative, social, personal and economic potential; positively contributing to their social mobility. From March 2022 – April 2024 the Lyric worked with 1559 young people from West London, with learning opportunities for 710 students and 76 teachers across KS1-KS5, from the 10 boroughs of West London. START is the Lyric’s longstanding accredited project for young people aged 16-25, who are not in education, employment or training – 74% of the young people who have taken part were referred back into employment, education or training, demonstrating the success and positive impact theatres make in their local communities. 

However, despite excellent community engagement across the country, conditions are increasingly challenging for the theatre sector. Production costs have risen faster than inflation since 2019, with utilities costs having risen 120%, for example. To address this in advance of the General Election on 4th July, Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre are calling for:  

  • Investment in children’s access, with the next government funding at least one theatre visit for every child before they leave school.  
  • Investment in theatre buildings, sustaining and developing crucial cultural infrastructures in communities across the country.   

SOLT & UK Theatre Co-CEO Claire Walker said, “In visiting The Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Sir Keir Starmer witnessed for himself the enormous impact theatres can have on their communities up and down the country and in this case, the young people of West London.  

“All children have the right to experience the cultural and educational and benefits of theatre. We call on all political parties to support Theatre for Every Child, our campaign to ensure every child is guaranteed at least one theatre visit before they leave school. The Labour Party’s manifesto recognises the importance of culture for children but further work will be needed to deliver this vision. We stand ready to work with the next government to create the conditions for theatre to thrive, so the essential work The Lyric delivers can continue and so all communities across the country can benefit from the lifechanging power of theatre.”  

Executive Director of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Amy Belson said, “We were delighted to have the opportunity to welcome Sir Keir Starmer to the Lyric to tell him about the theatre we produce and creative opportunities we provide for the young people of West London. Providing him an insight into rehearsals for our forthcoming musical FANGIRLS and our pioneering young people’s programmes. Theatres across the country play a vital role in their local community and I hope we are supported by the next Government to continue to grow as an industry.”