HC Deb 17 July 1989 vol 157 cc15-6
32. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Minister for the Arts what steps he is taking to assist small theatres.

Mr. Luce

Through its funding of the Arts Council and the regional arts associations, the Government give substantial support to theatre in all its forms.

Mr. Bowis

Perhaps my right hon. Friend will agree that this week the theatres should not miss the opportunity to pay tribute to the great actor whom we have lost in the past few days, Lawrence Olivier. We shall greatly miss his stage presence, but the memory of his acting and production will, I suspect, never leave us. He had a great interest in theatre of all sizes, but not even Archie Rice would have appeared on the stages to which this question refers.

Small theatres are having enormous problems, as my right hon. Friend knows, because they are expected to meet the absurd requirements applying to cinemas, drinking clubs and large theatres. Some small theatres are having to close because of the 48-hour rule. Will my right hon. Friend talk to the Home Secretary to see whether that burden can be lifted?

Mr. Luce

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the sad death of Lord Olivier and to his great achievements, and I should like to add my tribute. His genius added new heights of achievement to British drama, and his contributions as a director of the Royal National theatre and the Chichester theatre led to great achievements for both institutions.

My hon. Friend has been in touch with me about small theatres and pub theatres and I have been in touch with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, especially about the licensing laws, which are principally a matter for him. It may help, however, if I explain that the Greater London Arts Association has invited the pub theatre network to put together the necessary information so that an approach can be made to the London boroughs so as to ensure that the law is operated as fairly and consistently as possible.

Forward to