SOLT announces West End theatres to remain closed until 2 August
Posted on 3 June 2020
The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) has announced today that all West End theatres will remain closed until at least 2 August 2020. The suspension of theatre performances has been announced on a rolling basis. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily mean theatres will reopen on 3 August as the government still has yet to release any details on how theatres and performance venues can reopen with social distancing measures in place.
SOLT also confirmed that different shows may choose to open at different times. So far, the producers of TINA: The Tina Turner Musical have decided to keep the show cancelled up until Saturday, 29 August 2020 whilst Matilda will also remain closed until at least 30 August 2020. Some shows such as Witness for the Prosecution have decided to cancel even further, with performances suspended up to and including Sunday, 20 September 2020. Then there is Be More Chill, which sadly decided to cancel all remaining performances altogether.
Other shows like The Great Gatsby have given hope for the future of the West End. The immersive Gatsby experience just announced today that they would be reopening from 1 October, this time with new social distancing measures in place. It goes to show that theatre can indeed continue so long as it is safe, clean, and secure. Meanwhile, The Drive In cinema at the Troubadour Meridian Water and the ENO's drive-in opera performances at Alexandra Palace Theatre seem to be a blueprint for UK theatre as well.
UK theatre industry in desperate need of action
The new extension of closures could spell dire financial hardship for many theatres and employees and the UK's furlough scheme has certainly come under fire as a result. So far, the UK Government and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have failed to come up with a solution for workers in the entertainment business, which is expected to be the last sector to reopen as social distancing measures slowly begin to ease. This comes despite a series of letters from the community urging for government intervention now.
Be sure to read SOLT's announcement in full below. Find out how to support UK theatres here.
SOLT's latest statement on West End closures in full:
"London's West End looks forward to welcoming audiences back into our theatres. We are working closely with the government to explore ways in which we can safely reopen.
To give our customers clarity and help us operationally, we have been cancelling performances across the West End on a rolling month by month basis since the start of lockdown.
Every show is now extending cancellations until Sunday 2 August, certain shows may decide to extend this cancellation period and producers will make their own statement as appropriate for their shows.
Ticketholders for affected performances do not need to do anything. They will be contacted by the organisation from which they bought their tickets to arrange a refund, credit note or exchange for a later date.
This does not mean theatres will reopen on 3 August; and further cancellations will continue to be announced on a rolling basis. The decision to reopen theatres will be made based on government and scientific advice on gatherings and events. Different theatres and productions are likely to reopen at different times.
We are grateful to customers for the continued patience and kindness they are showing during this challenging time for our industry. With 300,000 people visiting West End theatres in a normal week, it remains a major undertaking to process refunds, exchanges and credit notes, particularly when many staff are working remotely. Please rest assured that we are all working as quickly as we can, and we appreciate the continued support and understanding of our audiences."