Save Bruiser Theatre Company

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Statement of Response to ACNI Funding Decision
#SaveBruiser

Bruiser Theatre Company is very surprised and deeply disappointed to learn that we will not be included in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s 2018/19 Annual Funding Programme. Without this crucial funding, it will be impossible for us to deliver the innovative and meaningful work that, over the past 20 years, has allowed Bruiser to develop a diverse audience and terrific reputation across the island of Ireland. Indeed, Bruiser’s capacity to operate has been placed in grave jeopardy.

Bruiser is proud to be rooted in Northern Ireland, creating accessible work with a trademark ensemble style has made us the region’s leading physical theatre company. We produce high quality theatre experiences that excite, stimulate, and inspire. From the slapstick success of The 39 Steps, to the musical madness of Cabaret, and our truly innovative approach to The Importance of Being Earnest, we make West-End quality shows right here in Belfast; we help make it the incredible place it is today. Our current show, The Colleen Bawn, now playing at the Lyric Theatre, is a prime example of our commitment to artistic excellence and theatre that entertains.  

Devoted to making theatre available to all, Bruiser also tours full cast productions throughout the province and into the Republic of Ireland from our base in Belfast. We remain one of the only theatre companies in Northern Ireland to do so. In addition, we are the only Northern Ireland theatre company to be included on GCSE and A Level Drama syllabuses, providing a vital resource for educators and students to embark upon their own creative journey through study of our trademark physical style. 

Bruiser has shown consistent dedication to nurturing the next generation of theatre professionals, not least through our annual youth programmes A Day With Bruiser and The Arts Academy. These comprehensive courses, focussed on professional development, have launched the careers of scores of young actors, fostering relationships and helping them break into a famously challenging industry. 

Over the last four years, arts funding in Northern Ireland has been slashed to a bare minimum. While we do not feel that the Arts Council made the correct decision regarding Bruiser’s funding, we acknowledge that the agency has a limited and ever decreasing budget, some of which is newly ringfenced. It is, in fact, the repeated paring down of Government support for the arts that has rendered Bruiser a casualty. At a time when Northern Ireland is perceived externally as a hot bed of creative potential, and high-profile productions are bringing inward investment and increased potential for national and international tourism, it beggars belief that support for the arts is continually deprioritised.

Over the past year almost 20,000 people have had a taste of the Bruiser experience - we believe that these and many other people in Northern Ireland understand the significance of our work and, importantly, the huge boost to arts funding that must occur if companies such as ours are to survive and thrive. We appeal to all those who recognise the importance of the arts to make their voices heard by joining us in lobbying MLAs and MPs to look again at both the fundamental value of the arts to society, and the economic impact of Northern Ireland’s thriving arts, culture and heritage sector.

The profound legacy of Bruiser’s relevance cannot be understated.  We ask you now to unite with us, come together, and sign our petition to apply pressure to the Department of Communities to value, and invest in the arts to #SaveBruiser.



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