Shakespeare's Globe warns that without government support it will not survive
Posted on 18 May 2020
The Globe has written an open letter for the DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport) Committee to the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warning that without government intervention, the London venue will be forced to go into liquidation.
Shakespeare's Globe in danger of going under
Popular among residents and tourists alike, Shakespeare's Globe is a modern London marvel and an important venue for UK culture. Now due to the coronavirus crisis and mass theatre closures, The Globe is under existential threat. The off-West End venue wrote an open letter warning the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden:
"The Government needs to step up for cultural institutions. Additional financial support needs to be provided to individuals and institutions in the creative industries that are unsuccessful or ineligible for Arts Council England (ACE) funding."
Evidence was presented to the Committee today by Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, the Donmar Warehouse, and The Globe, who stated: "Without emergency funding from government, the impact of COVID-19 will result in the closure of some of the most significant and well-loved cultural institutions in the UK. Despite being well-managed, well-governed, and – crucially – able to operate without public subsidy, we will not be able to survive this crisis."
Shakespeare's Globe is not a National Portfolio Organisation and does not receive regular funding from ACE. According to The Globe: "Emergency Response Fund for organisations outside the National Portfolio was capped at £35,000 and our application was unsuccessful, so this avenue of support has not met our needs."
The future of The Globe looks either bleak or less accessible to audiences
The Globe was frank in explaining the forecast for its future: "We will be forced to close. Without emergency funding and the continuation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we will spend down our reserves and become insolvent."
The Globe will soon have no choice but to reduce its artistic and educational output. The theatre has also mentioned that focusing on operational survival means they will likely no longer be able to offer affordable tickets as they have before the coronavirus pandemic. The theatre currently offers 180,000 £5 tickets with 50 per cent of all tickets offered at £25 or less. The venue is also known for providing £2 million pounds' worth of free tickets to schoolchildren in order to make performing arts more accessible for everyone.
The venue has mentioned a few potential solutions, such as: "A new scheme whereby the government purchases in advance up to 20 per cent of Globe tickets for the next five years for disbursement to groups experiencing barriers to engagement would improve cash-flow."
The Globe has called on the government to extend the job retention scheme for the performing arts until theatres are allowed to re-open at 100 per cent normal capacity. The scheme was recently extended by Chancellor Rishi Sunak but does not offer any guarantees for theatres and performance venues.
The problem with insurance companies and UK theatres
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group (RUG) has reported a weekly box office loss of £6.15 million with a £240,000 loss in average weekly earnings. RUG has also criticised UK insurance companies who "appear to be very slow to appoint loss adjusters, process claims and pay out." Some are not even paying out whatsoever. This is different than Broadway theatres and other performance venues in the US, who have already received insurance payouts of "several million dollars."
According to RUG, not only will some theatres possibly have to stay dark, they may also have to close permanently and risk being sold for other purposes. Southport Theatre and Convention Centre is already among the country's first venues to go into liquidation.
Other countries around the world have implemented a number of measures for reopening theatres, including training staff how to employ temperature scanning technology and making it mandatory for everyone in the theatre to wear masks.
The DCMS committee has also mentioned that "The Theatres Trust anticipates the closure of a significant proportion of theatres and a lasting impact on the UK's position as a world leader in the sector."