HC Deb 25 February 2002 vol 380 cc432-3
7. Mr. Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow)

What action she is taking to support the development of theatre with specific reference to London theatres outside the west end. [34234]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell)

This is a matter for London Arts. Following the 2000–01 theatre review, London Arts' annual support for the independent theatre sector in London will rise to more than £15 million by 2003–04, which represents an increase of 88 per cent. over last year's figure.

Mr. Gerrard

My right hon. Friend obviously recognises the work of London theatres outside the west end, such as the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, which is based in Newham and serves a lot of east London, but does she agree that such theatres, which aim to do innovative work and to develop new productions, must take greater risks, and greater financial risks, than those that rely purely on touring productions and revivals, and that that is not always sufficiently recognised by the current funding systems? Will she consider what specifically can be done to help producer theatres?

Tessa Jowell

The answer to my hon. Friend is yes, we recognise that producer theatres take greater risks and yes, we want to support them in doing that. That is precisely why an additional £25 million per year will be available from 2003–04. That is a fund of money from which Stratford East will rightly benefit, and it will benefit theatre throughout the country in pursuing the important objectives that he outlines: innovation, promoting excellence and risk taking.