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Guardian theatre critic of 23 years Lyn Gardner to stop writing for newspaper

The Guardian has opted not to renew the contract of theatre critic and features writer, Lyn Gardner, who has spent 23 years with the paper.

Gardner’s contract, which ends on June 1, includes 130 reviews a year and 28,000 words of features.

Gardner, who is also associate editor of theatre news website The Stage, said in a statement: “I’m very sad.

“I’ve enjoyed having the Guardian as a platform over the years, it’s allowed me to plough a particular furrow where I have been able to investigate what theatre might be and where it might happen and that’s been immensely rewarding.

Gardner added: “I feel I have been very lucky to be a critic at a time when theatre has been changing so much. I certainly hope I will find other platforms where I can continue to write.”

A Guardian News and Media spokesperson said: “Lyn has been a valued contributor to the Guardian for more than two decades, but we have decided to look to add some new voices to our arts coverage.

“Our commitment to coverage of the theatre remains absolute. We wish Lyn all the best in her work with The Stage and elsewhere.”

Members of the theatre industry took to Twitter to pledge their support for Gardner.

Sarah Hemming, theatre critic for the Financial Times, said: “You are one of the best things about the Guardian and always have been and [you are] so crucial to their theatre coverage.

“They have been very lucky to have your wisdom, knowledge and tireless energy and they should reward that.”

Playwright and theatre director Zinnie Harris branded the decision “a terrible loss for theatre”, while theatre director Josie Rourke said: “This is horrible loss, you are such a champion for theatre in this country.”

Irish actress, Nicola Coughlan said: “Lyn your support for young companies and artists is unparalleled.

“When I did my first play out of drama school in 2013 your support meant the world to us. This is very much The Guardian’s loss.”

The news follows the Guardian’s 2017 decision to stop publishing Gardner’s blog, which it had run since 2008.

In comments made to The Stage in 2017 she acknowledged that the decision was a result of the newspaper’s ongoing financial difficulties.

Gardner said: “I don’t think it is personal, it is to do with the fact that the Guardian is in a dire situation and our future is in peril.

“Many people in the arts value the Guardian but if they want us to continue then they also have to support the Guardian.”

Guardian and Observer publisher Guardian News and Media has been operating at a sizeable loss for some years. Last year it reported an operating loss of £19m.

But the company is now on track to break even by April next year after a three-year plan to turn its finances around, led by editor Katherine Viner and GNM chief executive David Pemsel, which has resulted in a number of redundancies.

Picture: Catherine Gerbrands/The Stage

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