Thursday, November 22, 2007

Doncaster: Not big enough to support a theatre

What. What? WHAT? Yes, according to our lovely council, that's true. Except it's not, is it? Doncaster is one of the biggest boroughs in England. What you're actually saying, lovely councillors, is that Doncaster doesn't have the right demographic for a theatre. You're happy to spend millions on re-doing the racecourse, and building a new - admittedly impressive - football stadium for Doncaster Rovers, because, well, we're more of sports crowd, ain't we, but there just aren't enough people in this town who would go see a play. Coun Paul Bissett has said as much: "I don't we are in this moment in time a theatre-going culture."

And what does he use as evidence for this? The fact that the Doncaster Civic Theatre only attracts 75,000 visitors a year. But why might that be? Might it be because it is mainly used for local productions and panto? Let's look at what happens when Doncaster hosts a top level event of national quality - such as when The Strokes or The Zutons turn up, or Jimmy Carr, or when the Royal Shakespeare Company tour comes to The Dome. Oh what a surprise, they sell out! Shocking! But no, opposition Councillor Tony Brown, who sits on the Economy and Enterprise panel simply says: "What's wrong with the Civic? For a town the size of Doncaster it's a good little theatre." What vision!

Yes a new theatre would re-generate a currently run-down area of town, and yes it might just kick start a 'theatre-going culture', but even if that's all true, our lovely councillors have another reason for not going ahead with the plans. Here's good old Coun Brown again: "Our track record on managing things hasn't been that good in the past; at the best it's been questionable and at the worst it's been diabolical."

Oh. Well. Better leave it, then.


Dean said...

You have my sympathies - a lot is just down to perception: the theatre is for posh types and sport is for the masses. And these days no-one wants to be seen as posh. Stand-up seems to straggle this divide somewhat, in that it's okay to go and see Jimmy Carr at a theatre, because it's not actually theatre (even though, it sort of is).So hence there are less opportunities for good theatre and consequently less people go and it all spirals downwards.

I blogged about something simmilar in the context of Olympics vs Edinburgh Fringe a while back. Oh btw Anna, I'm not being lazy on my blogging, I forgot to renew my Warwick Graduates membership so need to sort that out before I get back in!

Paul fuzz said...

"Our track record on managing things hasn't been that good in the past; at the best it's been questionable and at the worst it's been diabolical." What the hell is that? Un-be-lieve-able. Has to be, hands down, the lamest excuse for anything I've ever heard. In fact, it's not even an excuse, is it? It's just sort of a pathetic apology. Great piece, Anna. I like your PROPER EDITORIAL COMMENT stuff.

AnnaWaits said...


And yeah, Dean I read your Olympics thing, sorry if I didn't comment. It was great reading.