THEATRE directors at the Everyman still want to create new work across Gloucestershire despite massive budget cuts.
The Cheltenham theatre struggles on despite a 100 per cent cut in their £52,000 worth of funding from Gloucestershire County Council two years ago.
Thankfully a £500,000 sales target for last year’s pantomime has helped balance the books at the theatre for the forthcoming year and they still receive funding from Cheltenham Borough Council and Arts Council England.
But creative director Paul Milton admits it is ‘tricky’ for the theatre to reach out to Gloucester, the Forest of Dean, Stroud and Cirencester with tightened purse strings.
He also says that theatregoers are less willing to take a risk with new worked in hardened economic times.
He said: “The Mousetrap will sell out. They will come to see Felicity Kendal in a play. But what about this great play that is new? They don’t want to pay the money. People are reluctant to try something they have never heard of, but we do try to encourage them.
“When it comes to Cheltenham audiences, people are not always willing to risk it, but in Manchester they will – they are more savvy. They are prepared to go into the unknown.
“The theatre industry needs to create packages where you buy a ticket for a main show and you get a cheaper one for a new show. I think that is the way it will go.
“With a £52,000 cut from Gloucestershire County Council it places you in a financial struggle. It is increasingly difficult to do new performance work in places like the Forest of Dean, Stroud and Cirencester.
“I want to see great new plays but it is difficult. People don’t realise how expensive it is to put on a professional show. If the people of Gloucestershire want us to create a professional product then it costs money.
“I overheard one couple who came to a show saying it is getting expensive and I stopped them to tell them about the amount of actors that were being paid, the design, the sound, the costume.
“I’d like to get back to the situation where people become regular theatregoers and will go take a chance on a new production.
“We don’t just receive work – we have done our own productions and we really want to create more. That is tricky in hard times.”
The theatre is forging ahead with a season of creative residents in schools, where children will focus on a First World War theme.
They also want to do a rural tour of a wartime play.
They also do choir and songwriting workshops with homeless people.
“There’s more to us than just putting on a show,” added Paul.
As for Paul himself, for the second time he has won the Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for the encouragement of new writing.