Four weeks out from the 2022 local elections the UK’s leading theatre and performing arts trade bodies, UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT), have today launched their manifesto to ensure that theatre is high on the agenda for all candidates. It focuses on three key asks: protecting and increasing local funding; investing in skills; and ensuring all local authorities create long-term cultural plans.
After a turbulent two years for the theatre industry as a result of the pandemic and the impact of numerous lockdowns and partial re-openings, it is now more important than ever that local authorities recognise the benefits of providing sustained long-term support for the sector. UK Theatre / SOLT’s manifesto is a must-read for all candidates to recognise the unique role that theatres play in their local community across key areas including the economy and job creation, health and wellbeing, tourism, and civic pride.
Local authorities are uniquely placed to support theatres in their area to thrive over the coming years. Ahead of the elections on 5th May we are calling on all parties and candidates to commit to the following three pledges:
- Maintain and strengthen local funding for theatres in real terms
- Invest in creative skills and recruitment to build a creative workforce that is fit for the future
- Lobby for the creation and implementation of a comprehensive, long-term cultural strategy for the local area
Theatre and culture are a vital part of the local economy and an invaluable way to support and celebrate the rich history and heritage of the UK’s towns, cities, and regions. By supporting theatres and enabling them to thrive, authorities can reap a multitude of benefits including:
- Increased footfall for local businesses and support for the night-time economy.In London, for example, 69% of theatre goers report spending money on eating out as part of their trip and 22% spent money on accommodation.
- Tapping into a major draw for inbound tourism.Figures from VisitBritain show that one-in-10 visitors from overseas visited the theatre at least once during their stay.
- Support for local education, NHS, and social services programmes.Theatres are estimated to save the NHS £100m per year, for example, thanks to their positive impact on people’s wellbeing.
- Excellent local opportunities for skills and training.The Department for Education predicts that the creative industries will be 7.6% of the economy by 2027 – outstripping manufacturing (6.7%) and construction (6.5%). Theatre roles offer opportunities to build skills in everything from business management and finance to carpentry and electrics.
It is clear that a vote for a candidate who supports their local theatre is a vote for an economically vibrant, culturally rich, and future-proof community.
UK Theatre / SOLT and our members look forward to working with all new and returning councillors after their election on 5th May. You can download our full manifesto here.