No date for full reopening before November

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said that it will be November at the earliest for the government’s announcement of a date for reopening without social distancing.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he said that the government would “only give guidance to resume performances without social distancing when it is safe to do so and the Prime Minister has indicated that will be November at the earliest”.

Responding to this news, Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan says:

Theatres Trust is disappointed to learn that the government will not be setting a date for theatres to reopen without social distancing before November. We appreciate the difficulty and the need for caution, but this means the vast majority of theatres will have no choice but to cancel their pantomime or Christmas show that generates the income to sustain them through the rest of the year, as November will not be sufficient notice to prepare productions and sell tickets.

This means that more theatres will need to be supported through the government’s £1.57bn rescue package. We are pleased to see that Arts Council England’s criteria for its £500m share of the £880m grants element is broad enough to include most theatres, but we are concerned that this will not be enough to save all theatres. We urge funding bodies to consider and prioritise the circumstances of theatres that rely on pantomime for a significant proportion of their turnover (as much as 40% in some cases). If the funds do not reach enough of these theatres, particularly with the furlough scheme ending in October, we will see more theatres closing their doors permanently.

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