News

One Year On: UK theatre industry mark a year of Covid shutdown

17 Mar 2021

  

A year ago, on 16 March 2020, theatres across the country closed their doors due to the pandemic.

Today, survey results collected by Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre from across the theatre sector paint a picture of an industry that has struggled to survive the past 12 months and faced huge financial strain – but remains resilient and adaptable.

The survey was completed by 944 theatre venues, venue groups, non-venue theatre businesses and individual theatre freelancers.

Over 95% of surveyed theatre organisations around the UK reported being worse off because of Covid. 53 of the 186 theatre organisations answering a question about financial loss due to Covid reported a loss of over £1m each – this includes 16 organisations who have lost over £5m each. The total loss of those 165 organisations able to provide figures is estimated at nearly £200m so far.

The survey also reveals that many of the highly skilled freelance theatre workforce have been forced to take alternative jobs during the pandemic, or even leave the sector altogether. One in four of the freelancers surveyed said they had gone out of business or ceased trading due to Covid. 270 alternative roles were sought within performing arts, and 456 outside the industry.

Almost a third of theatre venue respondents said they have had plans to create an outdoor performance space due to Covid – despite the fact that the majority (61%) will operate at a loss. Almost half are developing a revenue-generating digital space or product.

For England-based theatre organisations, 60% are planning to restart trading from 17 May (Step 3 of the Government Roadmap), and 83% said they would resume from 21 June (Roadmap Step 4).

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, said: ‘At that fateful moment a year ago when we were forced to close theatres, we could never have imagined that venues would remain closed today. It has been a year of incredible challenges, and would have been even bleaker were it not for Government support schemes including the Cultural Recovery Fund, furlough and SEISS. It has also been a year in which we have truly witnessed the resilience, creativity and community-mindedness of theatre, from digital innovations allowing streamed productions to reach a global audience, to theatres creating educational and wellbeing resources, and venues offering themselves as vaccine centres or hosting pioneering scientific research on measures to prevent Covid spread. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Government and industry partners, welcoming audiences safely back into theatres and playing a part in the national economic and social recovery.’

Despite the recent Government roadmap and Budget announcements, thousands of freelancers in the theatre industry are in crisis right now, and face weeks and months of uncertainty before theatres can fully reopen.

Read the full article here: https://uktheatre.org/theatre-industry/news/one-year-on-uk-theatres-mark-a-year-of-covid-shutdown/