Last horse-drawn theatre company in the UK under threat

The only remaining travelling horse-drawn theatre troupe in the UK may stop touring after losing crucial Arts Council funding.

Sabotage Theatre tour original plays to isolated and rural communities in Kent and Sussex, walking up to 14 miles a day, living outside and cooking with fires. The stage and set are pulled in a cart by two Piebald Cobs.

There are several in the US, Canada and Europe, but Sabotage is the only horse-drawn theatre troupe left in the United Kingdom.

Although the theatre company receive funding from various charities and organisations, since their first rural tour in 2011 they have relied on the Arts Council for the bulk of their funding.

Zoe Hinks, founder and artistic director, says: “There are drastic cuts to the arts up and down the country and unfortunately we are one of those companies that have suffered.

“We have launched a Crowdfunder campaign to make up the deficit, but if that fails we can’t pay our actors or our horse handlers, and can’t tour.

“If we stop touring, there’s no more horse-drawn theatre in this country.”

The Crowdfunder campaign aims to raise £12,092 by July 25.

Historian Dr Matthew Green, author of London: A Travel Guide Through Time, says:

“Horse-drawn theatre is an inspiring way of resurrecting the rich oral culture that once flourished throughout the country, at a time when many of our own rural communities are threatened by the exsanguination of traditional village life.

“It would be a terrible shame if that were to end.”

Before Sabotage, the most recent horse-drawn theatre company in the UK was Horse and Bamboo. The troupe stopped touring with horses in 1999.

Donations can be made at the Crowdfunder page.

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