HC Deb 27 October 1986 vol 103 c16
32. Mr. Freud

asked the Minister for the Arts whether he is satisfied with the operation of the Charities Act as it affects subsidised theatre companies.

Mr. Luce

I am not aware of any particular difficulties.

Mr. Freud

Will the Minister speak to his civil servants and see whether there might be a way in which a theatre can receive charitable status and be able to practise forward financial planning, which is currently impossible under the Charities Act 1985?

Mr. Luce

I will examine that. No particular problem of this kind has been brought to my attention before, but I promise to look at it and let the hon. Gentleman know what I think.

Mr. Nelson

Will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Chichester Festival Theatre, a registered charity, which without any support in the form of subsidies from the Arts Council or local authorities has, year after year, made a substantial cash return, and which continues to provide good theatre with 95 to 100 per cent. occupancy? Are there not lessons for other theatres with charitable status in the Chichester experience?

Mr. Luce

I am very glad indeed to join my hon. Friend in welcoming the remarkable achievement of Chichester theatre. It is a very good example of self-help in the theatre world. It is a great achievement that, without any support from the taxpayer, it is able to raise adequate resources. I hope that, like other theatres, it will find that the changes in the Budget, which encourage more giving by corporations and, from next April, by individuals, will help theatres and other arts organisations.