Arts Council is Investing in the Future of Contemporary British Musical Theatre

Arts Council is pleased to announce that it is investing in the infrastructure and grassroots of musical theatre, most recently with an award of £188,860 to producers Perfect Pitch Musicals.

Musical theatre is one of the most popular artforms and contributes significantly to the UK economy in terms of employment, tourism and tax revenues, but very little support from the industry is reinvested to develop the grassroots of contemporary British musicals. This can be seen in the current crop of West End musicals, which is reliant on revivals, imports, jukebox musicals and already established and celebrity names.

Perfect Pitch Musicals is an organisation committed to developing contemporary British musicals by working with writers to develop and showcase their work. Initially the organisation started as a one-off showcase event organised by Andy Barnes, then he received a small Arts Council grant which helped take the project further. This has now developed to an organisation managing a professional network that works with and develops writers and their work, as well as providing performance showcases.

Andy Barnes, Executive Producer at Perfect Pitch explains:

‘I founded Perfect Pitch in 2006 as a one-off showcase of new musicals. I was struggling to find something contemporary, new and relevant as well as something developed enough to put on stage.

‘When we put on the showcase, I was hoping to find a few other people that might want to help me develop one or two of those shows. Luckily, a number of venues and producers that I had invited were interested in moving a couple of them forward and so I began a series of collaborations. In 2008, with the support of more than 15 partners around the UK including venues, training establishments, agents and producers, Perfect Pitch has, by necessity, expanded into a network for developing new musicals and annually showcasing them in the West End.’

Dougal Irvine’s first and award winning musical Departure Lounge was featured in the first Perfect Pitch showcase and was picked up by three commercial producers. His second musical Get In Touch is also currently being developed through the Perfect Pitch network. He commented:

‘Perfect Pitch is fantastic for a writer because your material is presented at a level which the industry recognises. It’s a joy to have your work developed with top actors and a hand picked creative team. Andy Barnes is great because he respects each writer as an individual with specific needs.’

The Arts Council first supported Perfect Pitch as an organisation in 2007 with a £45,000 award to research the creation of a network to support new British musical theatre. With our most recent award, we have invested in the long term aims of the organisation and have, ultimately, made a commitment to the development of new musical theatre work in the UK.

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director of Arts Council England, London said:
‘Traditionally musical theatre is considered to be a commercially sustainable artform which doesn’t require public subsidy. However, there is a definite need for investment in the developmental infrastructure which will help support the next generation of musical theatre practitioners in this country.

‘We don’t expect results over night, but our investment is helping create conditions where emerging talent can thrive.’

‘It’s a slow process developing musicals’ added Andy Barnes, ‘and you rely on inspiring and creative artists in all fields to ultimately achieve a quality show. As each year passes, the musicals feel stronger, the opportunities seem to be more widespread and more of the shows are breaking through. Hopefully soon, audiences will have the opportunity to decide on the quality themselves.’

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