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The importance of Amateur Theatre

An open letter to Robert Courts MP:

The importance of Amateur Theatre - where would we be without it?

There is no question of the importance of Amateur Theatre within our local communities.

Amateur theatre performing groups produce over 3500 productions annually which are watched by audience figures of more than 2 million every year. These performances include pantomimes, plays and musicals. We are proud to be part of the umbrella body, the National Operatic & Dramatic Association (NODA). The combined membership of this organisation is over 100,000 ranging in age from 8-80.

NODA’s members groups generate between £150m - £200m in ticket sales with at least the same being produced in additional spending including: food, drink, travel and accommodation. The vast majority of this supports a wide range of businesses, including theatres, village and community halls, theatrical suppliers, restaurants, musicians, bars and hotels. Many groups like ours also raise significant sums for local and national charities with specific fundraising events.

Amateur theatre plays a significant part in the cultural life of the nation; helping with both physical and mental health, not just for the performers and all taking part, but for audiences too. Youngsters involved grow in confidence and self-esteem. Amateur theatre, in many smaller communities, is very often the hub of cultural activity as well as helping to bring communities together.

At the present time, virtually all amateur theatre productions have been cancelled across the country, and given the lead time for productions, it is unlikely there will be many, if any, productions before the middle of 2021. This is a significant loss to the cultural and economic life of the UK. Groups like ours have been making use of technology to keep in touch, rehearse, or put together videos to entertain our audiences via social media channels. We are eager to maintain our involvement and to resume a normal programme as far as we can.

My plea to you today, is to PLEASE give the amateur theatre sector the same consideration as that of the professional theatres. The professional theatres are currently being highlighted in the press, but there is no mention of the amateur sector, which does so very much for the wellbeing and the economy of our country.

Please could you encourage your local constituents to support their local AmDram groups when COVID restrictions allow

Yours sincerely,

Gareth Hammond

Chairman – Bartholomew Players

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