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SOLT and UK Theatre give oral evidence to the DCMS Select Committee in support of the industry

Published 9 June 2020

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.

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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.