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: A Dashing Fellow by Belka Productions

Belka Productions is dedicated to presenting rare Russian and European texts, and it was therefore fitting that my first encounter with their work was a fusion of both – an adaptation of three stories by Vladimir Nabokov, a Russian emigré who lived for a while in West Germany. The play is a strange Russo-German amalgamation: evoking Isherwood‘s Berlin, as interpreted by Ebb and Fosse, and combining the detachment of Brecht with the lack of moral finality of Chekov, which would leave you unsatisfied were it not for the perfidious, yet magnetic central character.

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Review: Kubrick3 by PIT

There are too few comedies on the small-scale scene these days, mainly because it is one of the most difficult genres to get right, but PIT are masters of it and Kubrick3 (tongue-twistingly pronounced ‘Kubrick cubed’) is the latest gem in their canon.

As PIT shows so often are, Kubrick3 is inspired by a true story – that of Alan Conway, described in the publicity as a “failed businessman and unsuccessful homosexual [who] decides his life might improve if he just tells people he’s award-winning film director Stanley Kubrick.” And from that premise comes a fast-paced, roller-coaster ride of hilarious proportions.

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Review: Rift Zone by Night Light Theatre

Night Light Theatre is a devising company and Rift Zone is their latest show, directed by Rich Rusk (Associate Director of Gecko), and based on the company’s experience during a trip to Iceland.

The set is the first thing that strikes you as you wait for the performance to begin, dominated by coloured light bulbs on pendants, some of which hang at different levels over the playing space, and some of which are tangled together to decorate a crude throne at the centre of the back wall. Music is playing, live, as you enter the space; strange, unearthly music which, as the lights go down, is swelled by three vocalists, trying-out sounds which, at first, present a cacophony of meaningless syllables, but which gradually come together to create harmony and the beginning of a narrative.  And this is a glimpse of the show to come.

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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: The Heads by Blind Summit

THe HeadsThe Heads is a new piece of work by acclaimed puppet company, Blind Summit, and this was its first outing.  Although developed directly from a section of their previous work, The Table, The Heads is a departure from the narrative style and Blind Summit have to be applauded for taking risks and not sticking with a formula, especially one so successful.

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Review: Fiesco by The Faction

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The Faction produce a heady mix of classic, text-based, physical theatre which is a joy to witness.  They are dedicated to producing the complete works of Schiller, but also include other classics in their repertoire, such as Chekov, Lorca, Shakespeare and Strindberg, to name but a few.  But it was Schiller who drew me to the New Diorama Theatre on a cold January evening.  Last year I was privileged to see The Faction’s Mary Stuart, and I had high expectations of this latest production.  I was not disappointed.

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Review: Ladybird by Secret/Heart

LadybirdLadybird is not your average Christmas show, and I have to applaud the The New Diorama Theatre for programming it in December, which made a welcome alternative to the jolly muzak and tinsel-ridden images otherwise pervading our culture at this time of year.

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