RSC cutbacks condemned by union

BECTU will fight plans for the Royal Shakespeare Company to focus on touring.

Management of the RSC, without any warning to union representatives, announced this week (May 25) that performances at the Barbican and Stratford theatres would be scaled down in order to stage more shows in London's West End and regional centres.

Union officials fear that jobs could be at risk in the company's two bases if plays go on tour, and has warned that the tourist industry could be hit if visitors abandon trips to Stratford and London when they find that large-scale Shakespearean works are no longer playing.

Promises from the RSC that shows will tour while the two home theatres are dark were met with scepticism by union members at the Barbican. They remember similar pledges from management four years ago, when their theatre was closed for the season, but only a few touring productions were staged.

The union has called for urgent talks with RSC management, and is calling on London's Mayor Ken Livingstone to intervene in a row that could, according to officials, turn into a cultural and tourist disaster.


PRESS INFORMATION

Without Embargo Friday 25th May 2001

Attention of arts and entertainment correspondents plus labour and industry correspondents

RSC at the Barbican

Theatre union BECTU reacted with horror to today's revelation that the Royal Shakespeare Company is deserting the Barbican centre.

Union assistant general secretary Gerry Morrissy said, "This is both cultural and commercial madness. The RSC proposal to desert their Barbican base and scale down their operation to summer touring and ensemble work threatens the artistic integrity of the company, will weaken the capital's cultural credibility and threatens the tourism industry.

"We will, of course, fight any redundancies with every weapon at our disposal but beyond this we appeal to Londoners and to the Mayor to join with us in a campaign to reverse this shoddy plan. "The company's managers seem to have missed the point that both the domestic audience and overseas visitors, particularly from the US, come particularly to Stratford."

Note to editors:
BECTU represents eight thousand staff in the theatre and entertainment sector.

Further information from:
Nick Wright BECTU Press Office: 020 7437 8506
Mobile: 07976 943514 email: nwright@bectu.org.uk
OR:
Gerry Morrissey BECTU Assistant General Secretary: 0785 0317866


26 May 2001