Low levels of public funding for theatre construction and maintenance have been slammed by government-backed theatre watchdog the Theatres Trust.

In its annual report, trust director Peter Longman claimed that, outside London’s West End, “theatre now faces a greater crisis of confidence than at any time since the war”. The report lists 17 theatres, including the Royal Opera House in Scarborough, and the Hackney Empire in east London, that have recently closed down or are under threat.

Longman argued that, after a short boom funded by the National Lottery, investment in theatre building and refurbishment had been severely cut back.

“We are in danger of going back to the worst kind of penny-pinching make-do-and-mend scenario when it comes to dealing with existing buildings,” he said.

Longman went on to criticise public authorities for not subsidising the running costs of live theatre.

“I have a dread that in 10 years from now we will find a crop of new Lottery-funded theatres with nothing to put in them because local authorities cannot afford to run them.”