Cutting back on reviews is a retrograde decision
Next Stage Theatre Company has always been grateful for the positive support and publicity we have enjoyed in the Bath Chronicle.
As for The Mission, a small private theatre in the heart of Bath, it would not be overstating things to say that, from its inception eight years ago, the theatre has achieved local and regional recognition largely due to the regular articles about us in your paper.
We are very desirous that such positive relationships are maintained.
I quite understand that an incoming editor will be looking to put his or her own stamp on the paper. However, I was dismayed to learn that some apparently retrograde decisions have already been taken that will affect all of us who are involved in local performing arts companies and/or run independent arts venues.
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One such decision, I believe, is to no longer review amateur productions in Bath and to concentrate solely on the weekly professional touring companies that come to the Theatre Royal.
The vast majority of these productions have already been showcased in London or other major UK cities and anyone wanting to decide whether or not to buy tickets can simply go online and find a wide range of reviews.
However for local Bath-based companies, many of whom stage productions that are favourably compared to those on offer at the TRB, there will now be no opportunity to receive the recognition that the community-based practitioners deserve. Lack of reviews will reduce the opportunities many of us have for promoting our work and reaching out to the Bath clientele.
In these recessionary times everyone is anxious for good local press, and dependent for our very survival on the audiences that such press attracts. While aware that if we provide reviews they may be posted on the Bath Chronicle website, the veracity and impartiality of such reviews is debatable, plus I wonder whether they will have the same kudos as those provided by the Chronicle's erstwhile team of reviewers?
Our marketing budget is almost non-existent and we rely on public acclaim for our productions and coverage in the local media to maintain our public profile.
I seek reassurance that despite the necessary cutbacks and streamlining of procedures at The Bath Chronicle, not to mention all the other establishments and individuals who will be making legitimate claims on its time, the editorial team will continue to foster and celebrate all the many and varied amateur companies that make Bath such a rich and varied city in terms of the arts, and that local venues such as ours will not become marginalised.
ANN GARNER Artistic Director Mission Theatre and Next Stage Theatre Company Bath