This day in 2014 the world lost one of its most passionate advocates for the arts when Professor Anthony Field CBE, passed away.
It is strangely fitting that someone so important to the arts world, a high-level accountant, should have passed away at the end of the tax year. But this was just one of the very neat things about this most precise and orderly of men, but with a deep creative and artistic seam that ran through him as “Blackpool” runs through a stick of rock.
Starting out as an idealistic young actor (and auditioning for Gielgud), he gravitated towards accountancy as a steadier way to keep himself fed and housed while figuring out the theatrical world. He was one of the figures who creatively helped to dismantle stage censorship in the 1950s. He was Finance Director of the Arts Council of Great Britain from 1957-1984, overseeing a budget which increased one hundredfold in that time. He was passionate about all branches of the arts. He, and his untiring support, is the reason so many UK regional theatres survived the bulldozer to still serve their communities today.
His many achievements are too numerous to mention here, except that alongside maintaining the arts, his other passion was education, supporting new young producers and managers, creating the very first Arts Management courses himself in the 1960s. A young producer starting out would always find Tony’s office door open for some advice, support and encouragement.
So many of today’s top producers, arts executives and managers were encouraged and inspired by Tony, that its hard to imagine anyone who hadn’t benefitted from having known him. As one of the producers who helped us prepare his entry in the Olivier Awards 2014 “In Memoriam” tribute at the Royal Opera House said to me, “I never met him but it sounds like I owe him a lot”.
After The Arts Council, he , in his friend and colleague Richard Pilbrow’s own words, “saved” one of the world’s most respected arts consultancies, Theatre Projects, from collapse, securing its continued existence and growth.
Those of us who worked with him at Anthony Field Associates, my colleagues John Causebrook and Darren Black, were amazed but somehow not surprised that he maintained his routine of coming into the office daily, keeping a number of appointments, and producing enlightened and informative article for various journals, right up to the end.
We all miss him just as much today as we did on April 6, 2014.
Thanks to technology, we can enjoy a lecture of his from 2012, when he was invited to give the closing lecture in the LONDON THEATRE series by Gresham College. Entitled THE FUTURE OF LONDON THEATRE, it contains some of his most important ideas and themes. As always with his lectures, it was amusing, enlightening, warm and passionate. Watch it now and you can sense the decades of experience woven into these words.
Thank You, Tony, for everything.