Letter: Enduring quality

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IN AN age of one-hit wonders and trivia you might expect something of enduring quality to be highly valued. Not so it seems.

After decades of instilling in generations of children a passion for the theatre, Renee Martin’s weekly drama workshops and holiday courses were suddenly given a one-month closure notice.

So often we hear the complaint that Horsham offers nothing for young people to do, yet here we see the council seeking to close an institution that has motivated local youngsters for years. The enthusiasm Renee inspires often lasts well beyond these sessions.

Some students go on to study performing arts at college and even pursue careers in theatre. Many more remain engaged through amateur dramatics. Even the current students can be seen from time to time in child and ‘chorus’ roles in local productions and plays put on by visiting repertory companies.

This sort of ‘payback’ is something the Capitol won’t get from any number of children attending its Saturday morning cinema. While an arts centre obviously aims to entertain the community, surely it also has a role in nurturing new generations of performing artists. This is something the Capitol has done for many years, through Renee’s courses, and it can be proud of its achievement. Is it really aware of what it is set to lose by closing down this facility?

Renee’s training does more than produce competent actors. Unlike many drama clubs which focus on performing shows, Renee’s sessions seek to develop core dramatic skills and techniques, and it should be recognised that these are transferable life skills.

The ability to adopt a role, project yourself confidently through voice, posture and body language, enunciate, improvise, think creatively and collaborate with others are as valuable in the classroom, interview room or the workplace as they are on any stage.

Renee’s workshops help children develop into confident adults. Of course, you can’t put a monetary value on such things, and that is the crux of the matter. It seems that where ‘monetary value’ conflicts with ‘true worth’ money wins the day. I suspect that we are, therefore, doomed to continue reading depressing daily headlines about one-hit wonders and trivia for some time to come.

CHRIS SLEEMAN

North Parade, Horsham