Association of British Theatre Technicians receives a grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund

12 October 2020

 ABTT has been awarded £88,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

ABTT is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

ABTT is a membership organisation that supports and advises the Theatre and live entertainment industry. The membership of over 2000 individuals and organisations is made up of theatre technicians (employed and freelance), production practitioners, venues, manufacturers, suppliers, training providers, capital design architects, consultants and contractors.

It provides the essential mechanism for the industry to self-regulate and develop its own guidance for safe and compliant practice while promoting technical excellence. ABTT brings together people to focus on improvement in theatre and theatrical practice and collaborates with a large range of organisations across the industry.

ABTT, a national organisation with international influence, is culturally significant through its essential support of the theatre and live entertainment ecology, it provides:

  • the mechanism for the live entertainment industry to self-regulate through the Code of Practice and in particular the Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment (known as the “Yellow Book”) published by the ABTT with the support of the Theatre Safety Committee (made up of the ABTT and a number of relevant organisations across the industry). This Code of Practice, recognised by the HSE as an Established Standard, is relied upon by industry practitioners and regulators. It is also used as a teaching aid by training and education providers. It is the monthly review and update of the Code of Practice by ABTT that ensures it remains current and relevant. The review is carried out by a group with significant experience across building control, licensing, architecture, building services, production practice, venue operation and safety. Most recently (13 August 2020) was the issue of three guidance notes for COVID Safe working, created to help the re-opening of places of entertainment.
  • ABTT Safety Helpline: a public service used by the full spectrum of practitioners.
  • Advisory services for theatre design: ABTT’s publication Theatre Buildings: a design guide is a key document used by design teams and theatre consultants in the UK and internationally. The ABTT Theatre Planning Review Service brings together a panel of appropriate experts to peer review projects at an early stage to inform excellence in design.
  • ABTT Training: Provides the industry with reasonably priced, practical hands on vocational training which focuses on the skills required to do the job. The progressive nature of the training gives a means of CPD for technicians and the Bronze Award is used by colleges and as part of apprenticeship schemes. Training is run nationally and internationally.
  • ABTT Historical Research Committee provides consultation, advice and knowledge on historical technical equipment. It is a consultant for the Theatres Trust and Historic England on matters of technical and production significance.
  • a Centre for information and resources via its website.
  • Industry Wide Network: bringing together a wide range of people to network, exchange knowledge and information, share new technology and innovations, discuss current topics and issues, develop careers and find solutions through committees, webinars and the annual ABTT Theatre Show.
  • Internationally:
    • ABTT produces and presents the quadrennial International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference (ITEAC) – this brings together the international community of capital project specialists and prospective clients. It is a forum for discussion on issues impacting the design and building of places of entertainment.
    • ABTT is a UK centre for OISTAT (International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians)
  • an apprenticeship network to provide a forum for technical and production apprentices across the UK to network, discuss issues and support each other.

The grant from the Cultural Recovery Fund will support ABTT while it restructures to reduce its cost base and relinquish all but its core  functions. With the devastating impact of the current circumstances on the theatre and live performance industry, ABTT seeks to continue in order to support those organisations and practitioners who themselves manage to survive.


Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:

“Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

Robin Townley, ABTT CEO said:

“ABTT is fortunate to have received a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund.  However, the impact on the theatre and live performance industry of the effects of the current pandemic are so devastating that the financial support will only allow us to restructure our organisation in order to ensure that we are able in some form to support practitioners when required.  We remain gravely concerned for the survival of the industry and the personal hardship that so many involved with it are experiencing.  We cannot see how without further significant support it will be able to survive.”