The first founders meeting of the Little Theatre Guild took place on 18th May 1946. There were nine theatres present. By 2006, in our 60th year, we had reached the magic number of 100 members. The core of the Little Theatre movement has remained steadfast, and contributed enormously to the steady growth of the Guild as a national force to be reckoned with.
The Guild grew out of a common idea that independently controlled amateur theatres would benefit from regular meetings to discuss problems, experiences and standards. The idea was first mooted in the 1930’s as more and more companies began to acquire and operate their own theatres, but the War brought to an abrupt end early attempts to organise the Little Theatre movement into a coherent whole. However, since 1946 the Guild has steadily expanded, embracing the large and the small theatres across the whole of Great Britain. Over the years the aims of the guild have changed and now concentrate less on the artistic output, but much more on the running management and regulatory requirements of running an amateur theatre.
Each of our 115 theatres is a local community asset, run entirely by amateurs, with seat capacities ranging from 48 to over 300. A large proportion of those theatres are part of our cultural heritage that were set up and have been in existence since the 1930’s, some occupying historical buildings from 13th Century churches, ancient Corn Exchanges to railway arches and purpose built theatres. During the last year (2019), our member theatre’s income was around £7.3m, playing to 638,496 audience members through 942 productions over 5,800 performances. This Website will show you the range of theatres across the country.
The essence of how the Guild operates is based on personal contact. Each member theatre appoints an LTG Representative whose task is to report back to their theatre management and members what the Guild is doing, and to report to the Guild what each theatre is doing. Contact is maintained and strengthened through National and Regional Conferences, plus a lively quarterly Newsletter. The guild organises a National conference in Spring and the three Regional conferences in the Autumn. Since 1999 it has held an annual workshop at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on Bankside, devoted to Youth Theatre in alternate years. In 2009 we held our first workshop at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford Upon Avon. In recent years the Guild has concentrated on administrative matters, holding a sequence of meetings on VAT and recently on Health & Safety, at various theatres across the country, using expert speakers and tutors. In addition the Guild has in recent years produced guidance papers on Children in the Theatre, Copyright Music, Child Protection, the Licensing Act 2003, and Employment Law changes.
In addition to the regular Newsletter, the Guild produces a handsome annual Year Book to record in full detail the activities of each member theatre – an invaluable source of information about plays presented and box-office percentages achieved, as well as a record of the never ending schemes for the improvement of buildings, fund-raising efforts, successes and failures nationwide. The statistics gathered have increasingly been used to promote amateur theatre in representations to Parliament and to the national press.
The Guild really does service its members with a wealth of useful information particularly relevant to the tasks of running ones own theatres. It remains committed to promoting the highest of standards, to encouraging the widest possible repertoire of plays presented, especially new writing, and to stimulating the growth of Youth Theatre.
A free PDF booklet about the history of The Little Theatre Guild Of Great Britain Here>>