A group of women from the world of the performing arts has launched a campaign to buy a West End theatre with the aim of making it a venue that showcases female-led work.

The Bossy collective are behind a 15,000-member Facebook group set up in 2016 as a supportive space for women in the creative industries. Now, in the wake of the #MeToo movement and continuing allegations of sexual misconduct in the creative and other industries, the group, has founded a campaign to buy the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

The lease for the theatre, venue for many major plays including Oscar Wilde premieres, went on sale last month. The asking price is not public but the Bossy GoFundMe target is set at £3m. By Saturday it had raised £7,561 from 384 donors.

Arnold Crook, chair of Louis I Michaels Ltd which holds the lease, said the venue “one of the most beautiful theatres in the world” and had been his “life pride” for nearly 40 years but it was “time to hand over the reins to the next generation of dream makers”.

Natalie Durkin, the founder of Bossy’s Haymarket campaign and head of operations at Women’s Radio Station, said: “With the representation of women in theatre being so low, it became apparent [among members] that this had hit a nerve. It is also interesting to note that the Haymarket currently doesn’t have any female management.”

Social media is the campaign’s main tool, with #bossybuyout the official tagline on Twitter and Instagram. Durkin admitted reaching £3m would not be easy. “At the moment everything is about having a voice and bringing people together – that we have managed to do that is important. If we receive a big backer, there’s a possibility of everyone, including us, being blown away, but there are also a lot of legal issues to consider.”

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If Bossy are unsuccessful the money generated from the campaign will be used to fund a London-based female arts festival, with multiple theatres already having offered space.

Donors are being offered shares in the theatre but the majority are choosing not to be legal investors. Bossy “are open to having a small percentage of male input” but “the board voted in will be female”.


Credit: The Guardian

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