Cultural coverage needs levelling up to support regional theatre | Letter

Theatre companies outside London aren’t getting the attention they deserve, says Julia Sowerbutts

I applaud your editorial about the squeeze on opportunities for new plays and playwrights (9 December). For 10 years we have been running INK, a theatre company that champions short new plays, in rural Suffolk – staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers, including me. Each year we hold a four-day festival and showcase and produce around 50 new scripts. With no core funding, we rely on small individual grants (including from Arts Council England) which take a lot of time and effort to fill in. If it wasn’t for many professionals giving their time for free, we too would not be able to continue.

However, one of the biggest challenges we face is getting national coverage for what we are achieving – despite the fact we tour after the festival regionally and into London. It appears that if one is out of London, there is little or no perceived interest; to use a phrase of the moment, I feel that “levelling up” is an ethos that could usefully be applied to culture as well as to politics. A little national attention would help us and fellow regional cultural entrepreneurs hugely. So my plea would be that as well as Arts Council England thinking out of the box, could art reviewers do so too?
Julia Sowerbutts
Artistic director, INK festival

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