Theatre News: A Cold COVID Winter for the Arts


This week saw the announcement of a new economic scheme from the Chancellor that seeks to save job losses throughout an anticipated winter of strict restrictions and economic downturn. As the theatre and live music sector approaches it’s seventh month of suspended activity, industry leaders fear that the arts have once again been overlooked by economic intervention, which aims to protect only roles that are currently ‘viable.’

The measures announced this week are built around the premise of partial work return – impossible in an industry that cannot reopen safely in the near future. In August, union figures showed that theatre job losses had increased by 2,000 in less than a month, to a total of 5,000 redundancies by early August. The figure looks set to increase when the furlough scheme ends in October.

Despite the £1.57 billion support package confirmed back in July that aims to prop up the arts sector during this period, the industry still faces grim instability. Chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, Julian Bird, said the new job support scheme did “little to help the theatre and performing arts sector.” With a looming winter of cancelled pantomimes and live music, it is unclear what the future holds for Britain’s much-loved venues and the livelihoods they sustain.

Words by Laura Mehers.

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