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SOLT and UK Theatre call for support for the theatre industry

The Society Of London Theatre and UK Theatre have submitted a paper to The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) on the importance of theatre to our country; what we will lose if the theatre industry collapses and what we need to stop that from happening.

An ecosystem as intricate and evolved as the performing arts cannot be rebuilt from scratch. It is the product of decades of capital projects worth billions of pounds. Its buildings are unique and not easily repurposed. Its talent is truly specialist. The British performing arts and theatre sector is not merely treasured, but priceless.

The world needs our theatres

British Theatre is one of our best exports around the globe. British theatrical productions fill venues from Broadway to Beijing, and are recognised around the world.

Theatre is also a huge driver of tourism – both nationally and internationally. More people see a theatre show every year than attend all League football matches in the whole of the UK and 10 million tourists visiting the UK each year engage with art and culture.

The economy needs our theatres

The importance of theatre and the performing arts go far beyond its cultural impact, it is a big contributor to our economy. The cultural sector contributed £32.3 billion to the UK economy in 2018.

The theatre industry has impacts far beyond the velvet seats. Theatre is vital to the success of the UK’s multibillion-pound film and TV industry by launching the career of internationally renowned actors, writers and producers like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Ben Kingsley, Julie Walters, Cush Jumbo, Danny Boyle, Anne-Marie Duff, David Oyelowo and Sam Mendes.

From stage doors to costume departments, about 290,000 people work in the theatre industry. 70% of these jobs are currently at risk.

Theatre financially supports local communities too; for every £1 spent at the theatre, £3 is spent on food, drink, accommodation and travel in the local area. This figure is even higher in London’s West End, which draws 300,000 people a week alone.

Communities need our theatres

Theatre and the performing arts make a powerful contribution to our society and to our national identity – we have a rich history of theatre, from Shakespeare to Pantomime. Theatres make areas richer culturally and financially and are a big part of the fabric of local communities.

Local theatres are so much more than a performance space. They are community hubs, education centres and meeting places and many offer programmes that enrich the local area, often reaching out to old, young and disadvantaged parts of the community.

The support we need from government

For us to survive we need to continue to work with the government to ensure that the complex needs of the sector are understood and that we can work together on a solution that allows our theatres to open safely.

We simply cannot open whilst strict social distancing measures are in place as it is neither practical or economically viable for our theatres. We want to work with the government and Public Health England on a safety-first protocol and are keen to collaborate on a set of Keep Safe principles that would be adopted across the sector.

We welcome the establishment of the Entertainment & Events Working group to develop blueprints for how and when closed businesses and venues can reopen safely and are playing a very active role in that work.

On behalf of the sector, we have now submitted a clear request to the DCMS for support to enable our sector’s long-term future.

We need the UK Governments to:

Sustain our workforce

Since theatres closed in mid-March, they have been operating with zero income. We are asking the government to fully fund an extended Job Retention Scheme, and provide a new package to support the 70% of our workforce who are freelancers and self-employed artists.

Support theatre recovery

We need the government to incentivise investment in the theatre industry to help it survive and grow across the UK. Adapting the existing Theatre Tax Relief scheme and mitigating risk by underwriting production insurance will allow theatres and productions to reopen.

We’re also calling for support for the huge web of businesses that supply and rely on theatres, and support in creating Covid-19 secure venues for our audience, which will require investing in health and safety precautions like PPE, toilet facility changes and increased costs of working.

Safeguard the industry

Many organisations will struggle to survive, even with measures to support their workforce. Lots of theatre organisations are charities and trusts, with low reserves. We are asking the government to provide additional Emergency Relief Funding and the creation of a new Cultural Investment Participation Scheme to help organisations throughout the sector.

 

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

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.