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Theatre Royal Haymarket sale: women-only group hopes to take over

Imelda Staunton backs bid

16 February, 2018 — By The Xtra Diary

Imelda Staunton 

AN update on the sale of the Theatre Royal Haymarket, as reported in Diary three weeks ago: a bid by the group Accalia Arts, previously known as the Bossy Collective, has been launched online to raise the funds to buy the splendid Georgian playhouse to support work by women in the theatre.

In a statement on their fund-raising page, they say: “We are a female-led arts initiative campaigning for a female-led arts space, in response to unequal representation and the lack of safe spaces for women to explore what is going on around them. We have come together as a collective with a desire for change, to support and instigate shifts in the terrain and to do so through the powerful platform of the arts.”

They add they hope to “create a corner that contributes to global women’s movements, with a focus on the inclusive nature of the arts. The arts engage us to explore, long with holding valuable transformational capacities while despite being the fastest growing industry to GDP we find funding is consistently cut. There are so many reasons why we want to make a success of this but our primary reason is uniting, as women, to instigate and inspire creative modes of change in our social standing, treatment and power.”

They have been backed by actor Imelda Staunton, who said: “Let’s have it. Let’s have a change. I don’t want to exclude people but I also think the time is ripe at the moment to maybe push that idea forward and see how it works. I think it’s worth giving it a go and seeing what happens.”

The asking price has not been made public and the Louis I Michaels family, which owns the John Nash-designed building, have not yet commented on the bid. When the sale was originally announced, theatre chairman Arnold Crook called the venue “one of the most beautiful theatres in the world,” adding that while it had been his “life and pride” for 40 years it was “time to hand over the reins to the next generation of dream- makers”.

If the campaign does not reach its target, stated to be £3million, money raised will be used to fund a London-based female arts festival instead.

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