Earlier today, Julian Bird, Chief Executive of Society Of London Theatre and UK Theatre gave oral evidence to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) as part of the inquiry into the impact of COVID on DCMS sectors.
In order to ensure we can retain a vibrant theatre sector for the future, we specifically requested the following support from the government:
Sustain our workforce
- Extend the job retention scheme to October for the theatre industry fully funded by the government, as theatre organisations cannot afford to contribute with zero income for months.
- Identify a unified scheme to support freelancers, many of whom have been unable to claim through the current Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and have been relying on theatrical charities for emergency relief
Support theatre recovery
- Temporarily extend Theatre Tax Relief, which already encourages investment in theatre productions, and could help recovery.
- Mitigate risk in terms of insurance and liability – only 12% of surveyed organisations believe they will be able to get the insurance they need to re-open.
- Support the thousands of small companies that supply and depend on theatre, from set and costume makers to workshops to casting directors as well as technological suppliers.
- Help fund theatres in creating Covid-19 secure venues, which will require investing in health and safety precautions like PPE, toilet facility changes and increased costs of working.
Safeguard the industry for the future
- Many organisations will struggle to survive, even with measures to support their workforce. Urgent needs might be addressed by some of the following:
- An Emergency Rescue Fund that works across the whole sector.
- Cultural Investment Participation Scheme (CIPS) – many charities are unable to take out loans and existing loan structures are more broadly not fit for our sector; this alternative scheme would allow both charitable and commercial organisations to re-establish and enable the government to invest and be part of the sector’s future success.
- Assist local authorities who support local theatre, as any reduction in leisure budgets will lead to more pressure on regional theatres.
In addition to providing the above, Julian also answered questions relating to the impact of social distancing and the 14-day quarantine period on the theatre industry, and more. If you’d like to watch a recording of the committee meeting, please click the button below.