A THEATRE impresario has outlined how vital the arts are to the British economy during a meeting with the Chancellor.

Woodbridge-based Matthew Townshend was invited to Downing Street to meet George Osborne in the wake of a Budget boost for the arts.

Mr Osborne announced specific commitments during his final Budget before the General Election including an extra £8.9million to support culture across the UK and a raft of other tax bonuses for the creative industries.

Mr Townshend, who owns theatre company mtp and currently has two shows in production, said he was keen to promote drama as an educational tool during the reception at Number 11, Downing Street.

He said: “This was a great opportunity to press home the importance of the arts within British culture and indeed the economy to the Chancellor just weeks before the General Election.

“Even in these times of austerity it is vital the arts do not suffer. I am passionate about education in the theatre and how it can engage and connect with young people.”

The former artistic director at the Young National Trust Theatre said he had a productive conversation with Mr Osborne and he welcomed his latest funding measures.

But he added that there is always a danger the arts could miss out: “It is important that Britain is at the very pinnacle of the art world and the only way to ensure that is to invest – especially in young people.

“It was great to hear the Chancellor talk about how important the arts were and that he understands the positive social and economic impact.

“I hope whatever happens in May at the election our politicians continue to recognise the good arts do.”

This summer mtp’s production of the classic Sheridan Morley play Noel and Gertie – a tale about the friendship between Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence – will tour the country.

And in June, mtp has teamed up with Tendring District Council to stage an open-air adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most riotous and best-loved comedy plays The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Mr Townshend said: “There is a whole host of things going on and we are very excited about the outdoor event which should kick start the summer.

“The concept of open-air theatre has really taken off so we thought we’d take the idea and build on it, creating something new and fun for all the family.”

Over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 6-7 June, three venues across Frinton will each stage one part of a new rendition of the play.

Entry to the ‘promenade’ production will be free, with the first part taking place in St Mary’s Church garden (weather permitting) so families can relax in the sunshine and bring picnics, before following the action to the next stage.


More information about the show please visit www.mtproductions.co.uk