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Live indoor performances can begin from August subject to the success of pilots

First Published 17 July 2020, Last Updated 21 July 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today announced that live indoor performances can take place across the country from 1 August, subject to the success of indoor pilots with a socially distanced audience.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The UK’s performing arts sector is renowned across the world and I am pleased that we are making real progress in getting its doors reopened to the public with social distancing. From August indoor theatres, music venues and performance spaces will safely welcome audiences back across the country.

“This is a welcome step in the path to a return to normal and, coupled with our £1.57 billion rescue package, will help secure the future of this important sector.”

This news forms part of stage four of the Government’s five-step roadmap to recovery. We are currently working on four pilots with DCMS which will take place over the next few weeks and will be one-nighters in a variety of different theatres to demonstrate in practice how our venues can be COVID secure.

In response to today’s announcement, Julian Bird, Chief Executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre said: “SOLT and UKT are delighted that indoor performances can resume with socially distanced audiences from 1 August.

“With the restrictions of social distancing in place it will not be practical or economically viable for many shows to open and it takes time for shows to rehearse and prepare and to build up an audience. However, this is another welcome step on the road map towards opening with full audiences very soon.”

Following the government’s announcement of outdoor theatres reopening from 11 July, we have seen a number of theatres announcing their plans which will allow audiences to enjoy theatres alfresco throughout the summer season.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre will be opening with a six-week run of a special concert staging of their production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar as well as a series of one-off MOREoutdoor Mondays featuring top comedians including Rob Beckett, Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr and more.

The Minack Theatre in Cornwall will be running performances from next week with audiences seated in household groups, separated by spaces with a maximum of 320 members and no intervals or late-running shows.

Today’s announcement along with the £1.57 billion investment from the Government offers a positive glimpse for us all and is hugely welcomed by the industry. However, we continue to face various challenges:

  • We seek clarity on how the investment funds will be allocated and invested and no later dates for theatres to be allowed to reopen so that we can bring back jobs and stimulate the economy.
  • Freelancers make up 70% of our workforce and during this crisis. Many have fallen through the cracks and not received any support and they urgently need help now.
  • Only 12% of surveyed organisations believe they will be able to get the insurance they need to reopen and this remains an obstacle. In order to support venues, we will be continuing to work actively with DCMS, HMT  and the Insurance sector on these issues.
  • We must ensure that inclusion is embedded in the recovery plan for both our workforce and our audiences.

We will continue to work closely with the Government to face the challenges above and will keep you updated with the latest news as it is announced. In the meantime, please continue to support our brilliant and beloved industry whether that’s through donating, booking tickets to see shows that are opening or buying Theatre Tokens.

We are so thankful for your continued support, and we can’t wait to welcome you back into theatres as soon as we can.

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We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.