Live Art UK letter protesting the discontinuation of Lyn Gardner’s contract at The Guardian

On 15th May 2018, the Live Art UK network sent this letter to The Guardian to protest the discontinuation of Lyn Gardner’s contract as theatre critic:


Dear Katherine Viner and Alex Needham

We, the membership of Live Art UK, are writing in response to the news that
after nearly 23 years The Guardian is not renewing Lyn Gardner’s contract as a
theatre critic. We want to lend our voices to the many hundreds who have already
aired their huge disappointment with this decision and urged you to reconsider.

As we hope has become very apparent over the last week, Lyn Gardner holds a
singular and essential place within the theatrical landscape of this
country, and by doing so affords The Guardian the rare opportunity to do so
as well. Through the remarkable depth and breadth of her theatrical
knowledge, not to mention her indefatigable enthusiasm, she has enabled
your newspaper to report on festivals, artists and performances that no
other major paper has, and thus you have become a newspaper whose arts
coverage is read and respected unlike any other across the disparate
corners of the performance world.

This is certainly the case for Live Art and the new forms of performance
that the UK excels in, where Lyn’s years of experience enable The Guardian to
have a unique insight into a field, reporting on work by a diverse range of bold
and experimental artists and projects that have since reached the radar of other
publications, but long after The Guardian and often without the knowledge and
experience that Lyn brings to such work.

Live Art is an experimental but essential field, one that has been crucial
in nurturing and supporting the work of many artists who might not
otherwise have found a platform. The support of champions like Lyn is
absolutely essential to the life and well-being of Live Art, and to the
contribution that artists like Bobby Baker, Forced Entertainment,
Selina Thompson and Katherine Araniello make to the cultural and political
life of this country.

In your statement on not renewing Lyn’s contract, you spoke of wanting to
add ‘new voices’ to your arts coverage which is commendable, however, we
strongly believe Lyn herself to be the best means you currently have for
finding those new voices and making space for them. Additionally, assuming
that these new voices will not enjoy the stability of Lyn’s former
full-time position, we question if the paper, despite its avowed
independence of outlook, is sadly locating those voices and the work they
cover as precarious, ephemeral and fundamentally secondary to more
mainstream work.

We believe it is sadly short-sighted that you cannot recognise the
remarkable esteem in which Lyn is held across the theatre world, and the
unique cultural purpose she enables you to serve, as the place where the
very different parts of that world are able to meet on relatively equal

We strongly ask that you reconsider your decision.


The Live Art Development Agency (LADA)on behalf of Live Art UK

Live Art UK is a network of 30 venues, promoters and facilitators who
collectively represent a range of performance practices and are concerned with all aspects of the development and promotion of Live Art in the UK. The
network aims to be a representative voice for Live Art practices and
initiatives in the UK.

Live Art UK membership:
Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts
the Bluecoat
Cambridge Junction
Chapter Arts Centre
Colchester Arts Centre
Compass Live Art
Fierce Festival
Forest Fringe
home live art
In Between Time
Lancaster Arts
LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre)
Live Art Bistro
Live Art Development Agency
The Marlborough Pub and Theatre
National Theatre of Scotland
Norwich Arts Centre
]performance s p a c e [
SICK! Festival
SPILL Festival of Performance
Steakhouse Live
Take Me Somewhere
Tempting Failure

Categories: Blog

Date Posted: 16 May 2018