The Corona virus rolls on. However, dawn is breaking in some areas of our lives – pubs have reopened, hairdressers are back in business and restaurants are serving again.
We continue to struggle on with spectator free sport and the exhibition and events industry has a date for a socially distanced restart, but what about theatres ?
Whilst actors have waited patiently in the wings, the government have announced that theatres can reopen for indoor shows on August 1st, providing a glimmer of hope for the live performance industry that is presently struggling.
Many theatres are advising that, had it not been for the Governments furlough scheme, they would now be insolvent. Many others report that cash reserves are dwindling fast and that the outlook for 2021 is dire. The UK’s performing arts sector is believed to be facing an annual loss of £74billion and potentially 400,000 job losses in 2020.
Is this a case of “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone ?”
Many theatres do not fit well with social distancing for the performers, orchestra or patrons. Even blockbusters are not immune with theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh advising of redundancies within the cast and crew of Hamilton.
Desperate attempts to stay afloat are in process. Regents Park outdoor theatre (normally playing to packed houses at this time of year) has reopened but is limited to a capacity of 300, rather than the normal 1,200 attendees. With reductions such as this, surely it cannot continue long term ?
The arts are looking to the Government for help but are complaining that not much is forthcoming. Marianne Elliott, who directed Death of a Salesman, said: “I seriously worry for the whole theatre industry. So many people have dedicated their entire lives to this craft and it is sorely loved in the UK. It must be saved before it’s too late. If we lose it, it will take decades to rebuild.”
Theatres are now at the point where they have to commit to the future or pull the plug. Pantomime has provided much needed income, particularly for regional theatres, but uncertainty could mean that continuing is not a possibility. Oh yes it will I hear you cry.
In an attempt to help, the government has created a cultural renewal taskforce and advised that they would meet with orchestras, actors, directors and medical experts to try to find a way forward. As of today, we are yet to see any outcome from the taskforce.
So, what can we ask of you? The theatre industry is on a knife edge. It desperately needs funding as thousands of careers hang in the balance. But more than that, a British institution needs our help. An area that has brought joy to millions over the years, an area where we are a global leader needs our support.
Here are 10 things you can do to support theatres during these uncertain times, as publicised by ’ Whats On Stage’.
2. Buy venue membership.
3. Chose to donate rather than refund tickets.
4. Seek out play scripts to purchase.
5. Write to your MP.
6. Buy merchandise online.
7. Watch shows and performances online, donating where possible.
8. Use social media to get the message out there.
9. Subscribe, sign-up and keep an eye-out for changes.
10. Look ahead and plan for performances happening 2021/22.
As a family we will return to Regents Park open theatre to support the amazing, talented people who serve to entertain us. We will continue to support them, social distanced or not. Will you do the same ?