London. 1st April 2023. Arts Council England has just announced its support for a new piece of music theatre, awarding £12.8 million for the development of “HS2 – The Musical”. This commitment showcases the Council’s policy of funding the Arts in joining and levelling up the country, reflecting and capturing the ambitions of the Government’s flagship HS2 project.
The head of Arts Council England explained the decision to fund this new production, saying that “as a child I was captivated by Thomas the Tank Engine, the Railway Children and Starlight Express, and subsequent generations have grown up with a deep love for both the Polar and Hogwarts Express. Now that we’ve managed to kill off opera, this project appealed to the Arts Council as a way of spending money to level down cultural expectations, as well as serving the political imperative of diverting attention from the lack of any real benefit of HS2. This production could become HS2’s lasting legacy, even if the trains are never delivered.”
In line with the current arts policy, the majority of the grant will be channelled into audience research, with £7.2 million awarded to KPMG (Keep Pantos and Musicals Going), who are consulting on preferences for in-show catering and the provision of in-theatre multimedia provision to help audiences find alternatives to watch during the boring bits.
A further £3.2 million will be provided to a consortium including Ticketmaster and Trainline to develop a ticketing system in line with today’s train experience. Key features which we expect to see delivered are the abolition of any returns, along with the ability to save money by purchasing separate tickets for different acts. To enable this, each act of the show will be developed as a stand-alone pieces so that audiences can experience “HS2 – The Musical” in any order. A further £1.3 million will be awarded to support issues around content, with half of all seats facing away from the stage, with clearly visible trigger warnings displayed on all seatbacks.
The staging will be developed by HS2’s main contractors, Balfour Beatty and Sir Robert McAlpine, who will receive £1.8 million and are expected to work alongside volunteers from leading theatre companies (note to intern – can you find out who they are and whether we still fund them and insert before publication) to develop a completely new genre of construction-site-specific theatre, which Arts Council England see as a lasting legacy to 21st century theatre form development.
A leading branding agency has already received £820 million to develop the show logo.
It is expected that the show will tour from outer London to somewhere in the North. Like the HS2 project, there is little expectation that it will ever reach Central London or a West End theatre.
Performances are scheduled to start once the protesters have been cleared.
Yes – It’s April 1st and I know the numbers don’t add up. But that’s what makes it such an ACE policy.