An open letter to all non-NPOs: sometimes it pays not to be funded

David Byrne of the New Diorama Theatre, wrote an open letter in response to the latest NPO funding round. It’s one of the most positive, refreshing and exciting letters I have ever seen about arts funding, and I think it’s worth preserving for posterity. The letter was published in The Guardian, but here is the text in full:


Watching the Arts Council’s funding announcements, celebrations and commiserations fizz on my Twitter timeline last week, I was reminded of a panel I sat on just a year ago. I was next to an artistic director of a very well-subsidised London theatre who said the line that I’d heard many times before: “If our NPO grant, our Arts Council subsidy, gets cut, salami sliced any further, we will no longer be able to afford to take risks.”

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Review: Blue Remembered Hills by New Rep Theatre

This is the first production I’ve seen by New Rep Theatre, which was founded four years ago by Mari Cameron and Cecilia Colby, and the play itself is a particular favourite of mine, although I have never seen it on the stage, despite being the proud owner of a copy of the original television version. So it was with great interest that I sat expectantly in the audience at the New Diorama, waiting for the show to begin.

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Review: Thebes, Hamlet and The Robbers by The Faction

The Faction are nothing if not ambitious, and it is their regular rep’ seasons at New Diorama which have raised their profile so extensively. Where else can you see three such diverse plays in one season by the same company, and thus get to know their work so well?

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Review: Dissolve by Awkward City

DissolveDissolve by Awkward City is a non-narrative glimpse into the world of memory loss. I usually find it difficult to connect with shows which don’t have a strong storyline, but in this case it was entirely appropriate.

Olivia is a young woman who has lost several years of her life and is struggling to reconnect with herself and the world. The show draws the audience into her struggle, by presenting a series of dissociated fragments of her incomplete memory … we strive to connect them, to build up a picture of who this person is, but the ‘now’ of her identity as a fractured mind is more pervasive than the ‘then’ of her personality, built on forgotten experiences.

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Vision and passion

I am consistently amazed at the meteoric rise of the New Diorama Theatre.  The building opened just over a year ago and has already made a name for itself as THE place in London to see exciting new work.  Much of this is down to the vision and ambition of its team, led by Artistic and Executive Director David Byrne.  It also helps if you have a brand new venue in the heart of Euston, just two minutes walk from seven different tube lines.  Nevertheless, there are plenty of fringe venues in London with a good location which haven’t achieved in decades what the New Diorama has achieved in less than two years.

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