The Company in Abeyance

The Gay Sweatshop’s financial status had been increasingly precarious as financial support was often diverted from the company to AIDS-related charities. Advertising and sponsorship proved unsuccessful, as donors shied away from potentially controversial subjects. The limited success of I Like Me Like This and Blood Green had a cumulative effect on company morale. The company’s funding situation became irrevocable, leading to a forced closure in 1981. During the Gay Sweatshop’s absence, Britain was one of the few European countries without a touring Gay and Lesbian Theatre company.

Noel Greig press release in March 1981:
‘The inclusion of Gay themes by other companies and their work must be encouraged and supported, but these developments should not deflect from the need for a full-time Gay Theatre Company … This society divides us from each other, lines of communication are often few and fragile. A phone-line, a publication, these form part our telegraph system. Gay Sweatshop is part of this … we can see the state making a concerted effort to attempt to stop us meeting and shut us up. Buildings are burnt down. Street attacks because of sex, sexuality or race are still being ignored. They want us to retreat into anonymity – again.’

‘What happened in 1980 was that there was a huge round of Arts Council cuts. I don’t know if you remember that. There was a great big meeting at the Arts Council. It was not unlike what had just happened actually. A big swathe of companies had their funding cut. Gay Sweatshop had annual revenue funding but that was cut and so we were put on to project funding and then we went into a little bit of abeyance for about a year and a half, and the feeling was that probably Gay Sweatshop wasn’t going to continue. We lost the office and I took it all back and put it back all in my bedroom. We thought that probably how things would stay.’ Noel Greig, 2008

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