Muriel Romanes has used her award of a CATS Whiskers at this year’s Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland to call for the artist to be put at the heart of theatre.
Romanes, who was also recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours with an MBE, made a strongly worded call for financial equality across the board in theatre.
She was given the special CATS Whiskers award for “outstanding achievement in supporting and strengthening women’s role in Scottish theatre” during her 20 years as artistic director at Edinburgh-based company Stellar Quines.
Romanes’ acceptance speech was delivered on her behalf by actress Maureen Beattie as she was in Canada “panning for gold in the Yukon”, at the Magnetic North theatre festival in Whitehorse.
Speaking at the CATS ceremony, held at the Lyceum on Sunday, 12 June 2016, she said: “Artists are at the heart of what we do and they need to be supported, but in a world where they struggle to exist on fees – with no proper pensions – it is hard to sustain their creative lives.
“I feel there needs to be more financial equality across the board otherwise we will become a sector of administrators with not enough quality opportunities for the artists – more parity needs to happen – after all we are “in it together”.
“The public money we receive needs to work harder for us and until that is the case, no one should have the lions share.”
Romanes, who became a household name in the eighties through her role as Alice Taylor in High Road, joined Stellar Quines in 1994. She directed several award winning productions for the company, but worked tirelessly to bring about its vision of ensuring that women working in Scottish theatre do not become invisible.
Romanes added that there is a modern perception that a formula exists for creating theatre. However, she said, art does not exist in that climate – “magic, illusion and danger are the worlds we live in and that needs to be understood.”
She said: “Actors, playwrights and designers are at the coal face of the work we do. They are the cauldron of our future and their voices need to be heard more and their work properly rewarded.
“The artist must be placed at the heart of everything.”
The ten CATS awards were shared among five different productions. Full details here: The #CATS16 Winners.