From 1818 to 2018 – celebrating 200 years of The Old Vic; a world leader in creativity and entertainment. Statement by Sally Greene OBE to mark The Old Vic’s 200th anniversary on 11th May 2018. In a matter of days, The Old Vic, London’s independent not-for-profit theatre and world leader in creativity and entertainment, will be 200 years old. I have had the honour of being part of this hub of great creative talent for the last 20 years. After a plea in 1998 by Lord Chris Smith, then Culture Secretary, I stepped in to save The Old Vic from closure. I revitalised the theatre, forming a Charitable Trust, and asked Lord Alex Bernstein to chair it. Within four months we had raised £1.5 million towards the purchase price of £3.5 million. Over the next two years we raised a further £2.5 million to transfer ownership of the theatre from the Canadian entrepreneur Ed Mirvish to a charitable trust. I used my powers of persuasion to establish a distinguished and effective Board – Lord Attenborough, Michael Bloomberg, Sir Richard Eyre, Stephen Daldry CBE, Lady de Rothschild and Dame Judi Dench – to help reinvigorate one of the most famous theatres in the world. In 2002, I asked Elton John to succeed Lord Bernstein as chairman of The Old Vic Theatre Trust. Twenty years on, keeping The Old Vic afloat without subsidy remains a tough act with no safety net. We have many wonderful donors who help us to raise the £3.6 million a year we need to continue our amazing education, community and emerging talent programmes, as well as put on critically-acclaimed plays each season. We could not do it without them. The Board is working with management to deliver a capital building project to raise £16 million, which will allow The Old Vic to pioneer a financial model of self-reliance. The project encompasses upgrades to the historic building, disability access to the front and back of house, and expansion into a new education, community and emerging talent wing. All this work is intended to secure The Old Vic for future generations of audiences, actors and creatives. Artistically, the theatre continues to go from strength to strength, which is a testament to the many talented individuals working behind the scenes and on stage. Artistic Director Matthew Warchus is building on 200 years of creative adventure, with The Old Vic recently being hailed as ‘London’s most eclectic and frequently electrifying theatre’. Three years after his appointment, Matthew has doubled the number of productions on stage. He has diversified the artistic programme, offering an eclectic mix of new writing, musicals, dance, family programming, arthouse plays and re-imaginings of the classics. Daytime family work and late night music, magic and comedy have been added. The theatre is now commissioning and programming new plays, musicals and dance. The Old Vic celebrates its Bicentenary with HRH The Prince of Wales as its patron and continues to be a vital and vibrant part of London's cultural life. The Old Vic is committed to giving access to world-class theatre to as many people as possible, with as few barriers to access as possible, and that mission will continue over the next 200 years and beyond.
Since I led the bid to save the theatre from closure in 1998, I have been proud to hold the honorary title of Chief Executive of The Old Vic. As part of the governance review, my fellow Trustees and I propose to change my title to one that more appropriately reflects the role that I play within The Old Vic, to Founding Trustee. I look forward to continuing my work with the theatre to ensure that The Old Vic remains at the forefront of Britain’s world leading theatre community.
In recent weeks a number of allegations have come to light involving Kevin Spacey that have shocked and appalled me, and everyone who works within the entertainment and arts industry. There can be no place for this kind of behaviour within this or any other industry. I have championed The Old Vic for twenty years, and it makes me sick to my stomach to think that people may have suffered from harassment or abuse as a result of their association with the theatre. Kevin Spacey worked as Artistic Director of The Old Vic theatre between 2004 and 2015. The Old Vic has commissioned external advisors to review the theatre’s involvement with him, respond to any complaints that emerge about his conduct, and identify lessons that can be learned for the future. I cannot comment on that investigation while the process is ongoing, as I am rightly not in control of the investigation and do not want to risk prejudicing its findings. I would like to make it clear that prior to the emergence of these recent claims, I was unaware of any allegations involving Kevin Spacey, or any form of sexual impropriety, whether connected to The Old Vic or not. Since the point that I led the bid to save The Old Vic from closure, in 1998, and established a charitable trust to safeguard its future, I have held the honorary and unpaid role of chief executive of the theatre. It is one of a number of roles that I perform within my wider business portfolio of arts and entertainment institutions, which occupy the majority of my time. As part of a wider plan to turn The Old Vic into a world-leading arts institution, I brought in Kevin Spacey as Artistic Director, in 2004. Prior to this point, I had encountered him only at industry events, and I had no knowledge whatsoever about any concerns regarding his behaviour. Had I known, I would never have appointed him. During Kevin Spacey’s time at The Old Vic, I was obviously pleased with the critically-acclaimed performances he put on, and appreciative of the added profile he brought to the theatre. However, our relationship was purely professional and I would not consider myself ever to have been close to him on a personal level. Given my wide business portfolio, in each of the venues with which I am involved, I rely on having a professional team in place, who work diligently and tirelessly to handle day-to-day management. Had anyone raised any complaints with me about inappropriate or potentially unlawful behaviour, I would have acted swiftly to address them. I would echo the statements issued by The Old Vic, and urge anyone who feels they have a complaint that they felt unable to raise before to come forward. Alongside the rest of the theatre industry, The Old Vic is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment, free from prejudice, harassment and bullying of any sort. Any behaviour that contravenes this goal will not be tolerated. I am also committed to reviewing processes at the other venues within my portfolio. I will continue to take an active role in ensuring that the current and next generations of artists and support staff feel safe, confident, and proud to be part of Britain’s world-leading theatre community. Media inquiries should be directed to: Lexington Communications T: 0207 025 2300 | 07746 095 835 • E: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2018 Sally Greene