Birmingham Stage Company


26 June 2020

Compare and contrast the Secretary of State for Culture, Oliver Dowden, with his shadow Tracy Brabin. In Tracy Brabin you could not find someone better informed, more understanding or more passionate about the arts. In Oliver Dowden you'll only find an empty space. His recently announced five-point plan has nothing to offer the theatre industry that could not have been sketched on the back of an envelope fourteen weeks ago by someone on work experience. But you can’t blame someone unsuited to his field for being elevated to his current position – it’s not his fault he has no understanding or interest in the arts. I think you can blame the lack of cohesion and leadership shown by the heads of our theatre industry, who have been unable to come up with a consistent and unified position to put to the British people and its government. Our industry has never been good at coming together, as was demonstrated by the Behzti scandal at the Birmingham Rep some fifteen years ago, when we experienced one of the greatest blows to theatrical freedom this country has experienced in modern times. Once again, faced with the total collapse of UK theatre, where is the defining message? When faced with challenges that require unity, our failure may well result in the break-up of the thing we most love.

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