2 out of 3 UK theatres need extra support to stay afloat

Posted on 15 April 2020

As venues remain dark, so do their prospects of staying in business. According to a new survey conducted by SOLT and UK Theatre, approximately eight out of 10 (or roughly 2 out of 3) receiving theatres across the UK will need additional support from the government in order to survive in the event that lockdown measures continue past 31 May.

New SOLT and UK Theatre survey results and findings

The new survey outlines the many challenges that lie ahead should theatres remain closed after May and raises serious financial concerns for the industry. Almost a quarter of theatre producers have been faced with cashflow issues this month that are only likely to get worse with time.

The survey was completed by more than 164 theatres and producers nationwide and found that 77% of receiving venues and 67% of producers will need more financial support from the government than what is already being offered. Other findings from the survey: 

  • 92% claim they are not eligible for the COVID Corporate Financing Facility offered by the Bank of England, and 87% claim they will not be accessing the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
  • 23% of producers/producing theatres said they will begin having cashflow issues this month with nearly a fifth (17%) of receiving theatres also expecting cashflow issues in April.
  • 65% of receiving theatres have admitted that they will be taking advantage of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, compared with 40% of producers/producing theatres. Chief Executive of Leicester's Curve Theatre Chris Stafford has called this scheme a "lifeline."
  • There will be a 66% reduction in freelance/self-employed workers contracted to receive houses within the next two months, compared with 59% fewer working for producers/producing theatres.

More than 1/3 of receiving venues responded that they would be able to get a full program up and running within one to three months after the lockdown has been lifted. Approximately 2/3 of producers and producing theatres said they could manage to get their first show fully ready within the same amount of time.

To round things up on how theatres across the country have been doing: 

  • The Curve has lost more than 80% of its income since the closures.
  • The RSC's Swan Theatre will remain closed until the autumn season due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19.
  • Stratford-upon-Avon has had to furlough most of its staff to ensure its survival.

Parliamentary inquiry launched to investigate impact of coronavirus on culture

The culture sector and entertainment industry have been invited to submit evidence on how COVID-19 has impacted their operations. DCMS will take into consideration both the short-term and long-term impact coronavirus has on all sectors and how social and financial measures are affecting these sectors. This is the second inquiry launched by the DCMS committee, who will also be calling for evidence on how DCMS and ACE have addressed the needs of the sector and what additional support is needed. Written evidence should be submitted by 1 May.

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Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

Ephram is a jack of all trades and enjoys attending theatre, classical music concerts and the opera.