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.