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Please help, Oliver Dowden: Theatres are on their knees Secretary Oliver Dowden

I’m sharing the message that I’ve sent to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

Mr Dowden, theatre and the arts are on their knees. Every day we hear more stories of venues going into administration, into receivership, into permanent darkness. Support is desperately needed, and it is needed now.

Large West End production companies are planning redundancies. Smaller houses have expressed concern on their future. Freelancers across the industry are looking at months of uncertainty with projects shelved, postponed, or set aside.

The opera, the ballet, classical music, plays, musicals and festivals large and small are finding it hard to move forward. Regional theatres which have been in operation for decades are talking of finances running dry and of potential closure.

Rescue packages are needed to support the arts, and they need to be delivered swiftly. Theatre brings a huge amount of money into the economy, with a knock-on effect across the hospitality industry. And yet, the message thus far from the government seems to be “you’re on your own”.

Please, Mr Dowden, let those in theatre know you care enough to intervene on their behalf. It isn’t just about buildings and commercial spaces, but companies, collectives, and communities doing crucial education & cultural work. Don’t let this work be lost on your watch.

Theatre & the arts are West End powerhouses & regional receiving spaces. They are crucial community hubs, pub function rooms, tunnels, trailers, buses & boats. They are anything and anywhere where people make magic from words, tech and a story. They are the heartbeat which makes us human.

We cannot allow a loss of even 7% of initiatives or spaces & 70% are at risk by recent estimates. 70%. Gone. Is anything worth that kind of loss when it can be avoided?

Mr Dowden, we need a plan to support, protect, revive and maintain the places, people and ideas which entertain, educate, provoke, amuse and scare their audiences. Don’t be the Secretary of State who let them fail.

If theatre is your bread and butter, has inspired you or has touched your life in any way, tell Mr Dowden about it. The industry needs help from the largest chain to the tinest room. Now it is the time for everyone across the sector to jump in. It affects us all, big and small.

I can’t imagine a world where minority companies &.creators lose their place & voice. Where black voices, female voices, queer and trans voices, D/disabled voices, have no place to thrive and grow. Where accessibility is sacrificed because there was no support when venues, companies and creators needed it most.

If you would like to email Mr Dowden directly do so at

I can’t imagine walking around the UK and seeing all these places where dynamic, provocative, brave & escapist work has been shared shuttered for ever.

Where the curtain never rises again.


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