Interview: Evening Standard (19 February 1987)

This page reproduces some of Alan Ayckbourn's significant quotes from the interview.

The Cost Of Bringing Them Closer To Us

by John Walsh

"Money just doesn't equal job creation when you're dealing with the arts. Provincial arts bodies like my theatre in Scarborough need money to lure actors away from their home base, which means London. With more money, you increase the salaries you've already got, or improve the production, or possibly take on one more member of staff - but that's it."

"I asked what my budget was [for his first production]. Nothing, they said, but we won't complain if you go up to a fiver... This was for a costume drama called
Gaslight. As we established ourselves, we could afford the odd frock here, the odd tree there, to break the monotony. But we're always short. For years, I've drawn no salary in Scarborough - but not every director can live on private means. Every theatre could make a strong case for getting more money. And every theatre should be accountable for what it does. The local arts authorities, which give parity grants along with the Arts Council's, check that we don't charge more or less than civic theatres, see that the returns are good, and that we produce a clean sheet of figures. If we could spend £10 or less on a new play, we would."

"The budgets for plays in Scarborough varied from £5000 to £10,000 - that's about the lower end of a Cottesloe production. But I'd hate to see the National underfunded to finance the provinces. There's often been a feeling of Them and Us about the National and elsewhere - any attempt to divide us further would be dangerous. To see the National stripped of its assets so that the Royal Exchange can have more would be nonsensical. We must keep the flagships going…"