The theatre world has welcomed the Chancellor's announcement of a raft of tax breaks for theatrical productions in today's Budget.
The measures will mean that theatrical performances will receive a 20% tax relief, while regional touring productions will receive a tax relief of 25%, both from September. The measures will apply to opera and dance as well as musicals and plays.
The director of the National Theatre, Nick Hytner, said: "This is unequivocally good news, and an imaginative response to the challenges of theatre production."
Regional theatre companies also welcomed today's announcement of tax breaks for touring stage productions.
Rachel Tackley, director of English Touring Theatre, said: "It levels the playing field, because of course these credits have been available to film for some time now. It feels like the right and sensible thing to do to extend it to theatre.
"The intention is to enable more theatre production to happen - both in London and out in regional theatres. I'm absolutely convinced it will do exactly that.
"I think it's going to be hugely beneficial to both commercial and not for profit theatre. Of course, it depends on what it's setting out to do. If it wants to reverse the significant and continuing cuts to Arts Council England then it's not going to do that. And if it sets out to redress the imbalance
between London and the regions then it's not going to do that either. Not on its own."
"Any tax relief announcement is to be welcomed and will give a much-needed boost to theatres across the UK, encouraging more touring productions and new writing."
Greg Ripley-Duggan, executive producer at the Hampstead Theatre in London, said that the
announcement was a welcome recognition of theatre's contribution to the economy.
He said: "This is a big deal and I think it's a very hopeful sign. It's two things: yes, the money is important, but actually the acknowledgement and recognition of the contribution the industry makes is really important. It's terrific.
"We don't know much as yet about how it's going to work, but the main thing is just the Government acknowledging the industry. The Society of London Theatre have been lobbying for this for a long time."
Announcing the changes, the Chancellor said: "We're supporting our creative industries too. The European Commission has today approved the extension of our film tax credit - and I will apply the same successful approach to theatre, especially regional theatre.
"From this September there will be a 20% tax relief for qualifying productions, and 25% for regional touring."
George Osborne had previously suggested tax breaks for theatre productions similar to those already enjoyed by the film industry. He announced a consultation on limited corporation tax relief for commercial theatre in December 2013, at the time of his Autumn statement.