1 YEAR ON: Artists signify hope as we mark one year since Theatre’s closed their doors
Image: Supporter Selfies - Theatre Artist Fund
Tuesday 16th March marks one year since Theatre’s across the UK closed their doors due to Covid-19. 1 year on, Theatre’s still remain closed, however, many are lighting up in red to bring light to the situation and to signify hope! Theatre freelancers and famous faces are also joining in solidarity with the hashtag #firstinlastout to support the Theatre Artist Fund.
Survey results collected by Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre from across the theatre sector paint a picture of an industry that has struggled to survive the past 12 months and faced huge financial strain - but remains resilient and adaptable.
The survey was completed by 944 theatre venues, venue groups, non-venue theatre businesses and individual theatre freelancers.
- Over 95% of surveyed theatre organisations around the UK reported being worse off because of Covid.
- 53 of the 186 theatre organisations answering a question about financial loss due to Covid reported a loss of over £1m each - this includes 16 organisations who have lost over £5m each.
- The total loss of those 165 organisations able to provide figures is estimated at nearly £200m so far.
The survey also reveals that many of the highly skilled freelance theatre workforce have been forced to take alternative jobs during the pandemic, or even leave the sector altogether. One in four of the freelancers surveyed said they had gone out of business or ceased trading due to Covid. 270 alternative roles were sought within performing arts, and 456 outside the industry.
Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, said: ‘At that fateful moment a year ago when we were forced to close theatres, we could never have imagined that venues would remain closed today. It has been a year of incredible challenges, and would have been even bleaker were it not for Government support schemes including the Cultural Recovery Fund, furlough and SEISS.
‘It has also been a year in which we have truly witnessed the resilience, creativity and community-mindedness of theatre, from digital innovations allowing streamed productions to reach a global audience, to theatres creating educational and wellbeing resources, and venues offering themselves as vaccine centres or hosting pioneering scientific research on measures to prevent Covid spread.
‘We look forward to continuing to work closely with Government and industry partners, welcoming audiences safely back into theatres and playing a part in the national economic and social recovery.’
Despite the recent Government roadmap and Budget announcements, thousands of freelancers in the theatre industry are in crisis right now, and face weeks and months of uncertainty before theatres can fully reopen.
To mark 16 March, a host of famous faces are joining colleagues from across the theatre industry in highlighting the plight of freelancers and raising awareness for the Theatre Artists Fund, using the social media hashtags #16March, #TheatreArtistsFund and #FirstInLastOut - referencing the fact that theatre workers were first into lockdown and will be among the last to return to work.
Sam Mendes, director and co-founder of the Theatre Artists Fund, said:
‘The immense level of support for the #16March Theatre Artists Fund campaign illustrates that while theatres may be closed, the spirit of the theatre community is well and truly alive. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the campaign, and all those who have shown their fantastic support for the Fund. It has helped enable fellow members of our community stay afloat during these extremely difficult times.’
Sherman Theatre and Wales Milenium Centre:
Birmingham Rep Theatre and The New Vic Theatre
Victoria Theatre HX
Bristol Old Vic
Liverpool Everyman Theatre
The Lowry Manchester
Event Venues across the North East
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