Our Patch Autumn 2017 Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush - Page 9

Our Patch AUTUMN 2017 Funding boost for the arts L The Lyric is at the heart of West London overlooking Lyric Square to find a lot of the funding elsewhere; it’s important that people keep coming to the theatre.” For Janet Ellis, who has lived in Hammersmith for 27 years, the Lyric is quite simply the jewel in the crown. “I love it here; I don’t want to live anywhere else,” she insisted. “It’s funny; it used to be a hard place to arrange to meet anyone. Shall I wait by the station? Where will we meet? But now, Lyric Square, and the Lyric itself, are wonderful. “I love watching the people in their deckchairs, and I love the market… and it’s all enabled by the gorgeous new building next door!” The novelist, and mother of singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, is on the theatre board and the development and gala committees, and feels the new, expanded theatre complex has something for everyone. “Since the building’s been enlarged it has doubled in scope and reach,” she said. “It’s the vision. It’s got the wonderful 70s foyer, then the theatres inside, and it also does so much work in the community with people in need.” She believes the theatre fills a gap which yawns bigger every year – the teaching of drama in schools. “Usually there’s no drama at all in schools; it’s a department that’s been cut back and cut back. But the work that the Lyric does is wonderful, and it’s all thanks to the funders and the council, who have been so supportive too.” Janet says that the way to fully understand and appreciate the work done at the Lyric is simple. “Go there!” A self-confessed people-watching addict, she finds the cross-section of audience members at the Lyric far more interesting than in its West End rivals. “They’re fascinating,” she said. “I go to the theatre a lot, and I must say I don’t often enjoy standing about in the interval with the rest of the audience in central London, but when I’m at the Lyric it’s completely different.” One of 50 volunteers at the Doorstep Library Network, a project which helps children appreciate books by reading to them in their own homes, Janet was last year made an MBE for her charity work. After a favourable response to her first novel, Butcher’s Hook, she’s hard at work finishing the next, which centres on a woman who has an affair in rural Kent in the 1970s. It is due out in the autumn of 2018. Learn about volunteering at the Lyric by emailing lyndel.harrison@lyric.co.uk, while for tickets to Lyric Fest, the fundraising gala with performances by Jude Law, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Joe Stilgoe and Shappi Khorsandi go to the Lyric’s website, www.lyric.co.uk ocal theatres and arts groups will share in an £8.6million funding boost over the next four years. Arts Council England has pledged annual grants to six centres until 2022, giving financial security into the future. Two of the biggest beneficiaries are the local theatres, the Bush and the Lyric Hammersmith, which are also financially supported by H&F Council. The Bush Theatre in Uxbridge Road reopened in March after a £4.3million scheme to improve access and build a new studio. It gets an extra £100,000 a year from ACE on top of the £495,281 it has received annually since 2015. £8.6million funding boost over the next four years “We’re thrilled,” said Bush director Jon Gilchrist, pointing to the theatre’s growth from a space above a pub six years ago to today’s two-auditorium complex. “We expect to welcome nearly four times as many people this year as we did in 2012.” ACE’s funding recognises the work artistic director Madani Younis has done in representing Hammersmith and Fulham’s diversity on stage and among the theatre’s workforce. The Lyric Hammersmith has gained continuation funding of £1.1m a year, plus £360,000 to upgrade its studio and refurbish its 550-seat Victorian auditorium; the final phase of a £20m building programme. Lyric director Sian Alexander said: “We are immensely grateful. This provides 20 per cent of funds we need each year and gives vital stability.” Other arts centres receiving funds are the Bhavan Centre in West Kensington, the Youth Music Theatre in Hammersmith, aerial theatre company Ockham’s Razor and the Koestler Trust, based at Wormwood Scrubs prison.