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Brit Treasury Lifts Laws, Aids West End

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Theatre producers will be free to approach high earners for investment in shows, according to Treasury proposals to relax legal red tape.

The planned legislation, which forms the detail of the new Financial Services and Markets Act, would make commercial producers exempt from restrictions on seeking investment. These currently prohibit "cold-calling" and limit producers to a small circle of approved contacts.

Society of London Theatre Chief Executive Rupert Rhymes, who has attacked the current law as a threat to the future livelihood of West End theatre, said the proposals proved that the Treasury was finally taking the concerns of producers seriously.

There are still a "number of issues of concern," such as Treasury plans to take away the automatic right of solicitors and accountants to approve how theatre producers promote their product to potential investors.

There is also concern that if the Government's Financial Services Authority becomes responsible for deciding which organisations can approve these promotions, producers will face more complex paperwork.

Originally published in The Stage Dec. 7, 2000 and reproduced, in edited format, with its permission. The Stage is at www.thestage.co.uk

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