19th July 2021 Announcement
5 July 2021
In response to this afternoon's announcement by the PM that restrictions will be lifted from 19th July, SOLT & UK Theatre have released the following statement: 'We welcome today's confirmation that 19 July will see the lifting of remaining lockdown restrictions - meaning that theatres can open to full audiences for the first time in 16 months. This is a lifeline for our industry, essential for the survival of theatres across the country. We will be working closely with Government in the coming days on revising the performing arts guidelines, ensuring that our audiences and staff can feel safe and confident in returning.'
What is the current situation for theatres and what does our industry need?
The Government has confirmed that remaining restrictions will be lifted on 19 July, allowing theatres to open at full capacity for the first time in 16 months. This is a lifeline for our industry, essential for the survival of theatres across the country. SOLT/UK Theatre will be working closely with Government on revising the performing arts guidelines, ensuring that our audiences and staff can feel safe and confident in returning.
SOLT/UK Theatre are lobbying for updated protocol from Government, to allow company members and staff to test themselves out of isolation if contacted by Track and Trace or following contact with an infected colleague, rather than having to isolate for 10 days and potentially shut down a production. We need a Government-backed insurance scheme for the theatre industry, to
mitigate the huge financial risk of any future Covid-related postponements and cancellations. The safety of theatre audiences and staff remains the highest priority and SOLT/UK Theatre have implemented industry-wide ‘See it Safely’ measures.
We need a Covid quarantine exemption for the creative sector, as is currently afforded to Euros VIPS. Theatre is a global industry and many of our top creatives travel from overseas. Quarantine has massive implications for the timescale of reopening shows. We welcome the recently announced third round of the Cultural Recovery Fund, which remains vital as our sector begins the long process of rebuilding. We recognise that many within our industry – especially within the commercial sector – have not benefited from this or any other Government support.
Why does theatre matter?
UK theatre draws annual audiences of over 34m – this means that pre-pandemic nearly 94,000 people went to see a show each day. UK theatre has an annual box office revenue of around £1.3bn, and generates approximately £1bn in VAT for the Treasury annually. More people see a West End show each year than attend a Premier League match, and West End attendances are nearly 1m higher than Broadway.
Around 25% of overnight visitors to London come specifically for its cultural offer, and 40% of overnight visitors go to the theatre. Across the UK, theatre attendance has been calculated to save the NHS over £102m a year by improving physical and mental wellbeing.
What will the post-lockdown theatregoing experience be like?
Audience and staff safety is our highest priority. Although official restrictions are being lifted, theatres will continue to implement Covid safety measures including enhanced cleaning, one-way systems, contactless ticketing and security, improved ventilation and staff training. The See It Safely mark, displayed across our theatres, means a show or venue is Covid-secure and following the latest Government guidance for live arts events. The industry-wide ‘Book with Confidence, Exchange with Ease’ pledge makes booking for a show more flexible than ever before. Many shows are now offering Sunday performances, giving audiences greater choice when booking. Theatres need audiences, and we urge theatre lovers to book tickets in advance, to help the industry recover and allow shows to return. We are encouraging theatre lovers, performers and people across the industry to celebrate theatre’s return using the hashtag #BackOnStage.