ABTT Covid-19 Resources: Community Engagement – help fight COVID and prepare for post-lockdown fightback (updated daily)

21 April 2020


We Need Your Help to #SaveLiveEvents

If you follow WhiteLight on social media, you may have noticed that they have started their own campaign in order to create support for the supply chain of the Live Events Industry. As such, we would be extremely grateful if you too were able to support this as well. Just follow the link above for the social media toolkit, including campaign information, assets and example copy you may need to show your support and ensure our industry receives the support it needs.

Save Theatres & Entertainment Industry Petition – Please Sign

We all know that theatres and television sets remain completely impractical whilst social distancing is in place. For the majority of those working in the industry, doing our jobs from home is simply not an option and with the industry unlikely to reopen until 2021, this means we are facing a very uncertain future. This is why we’d urge you to sign this petition which calls on additional government support and to develop a strategy which ensures the UK’s cultural sectors’ survival.

Add your signature here!

Lobbying your local MP

We have collaborated with the SOLT, UK Theatre,  the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA), Production Services Association (PSA) on an initiative called #EventsForTheFuture. The aim is to petition the Government to provide more support to give the events sector a chance of survival through Covid-19 into 2021. Please download and customise one of these letters and send  to your local MP to campaign for further support from the government.

The main objectives for Government support are to:

  • Immediately make it clear to local authorities that, as part of the supply chain, the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant is open to this industry.
  • Remove the £51,000 limit depending on regional variances. Many companies are located in London or major cities and this blanket ceiling across the UK is unfair.
  • Reduce the financial burden of running a business by offering other forms of recovery grants on cost of commercial rent, lease payments, insurance and business rates, tax breaks and request the banks give longer mortgage holidays to businesses in our sector. The Government needs to understand offering loans is not enough as there is no certainty.
  • Allow extension of The Furlough Scheme, which has been an essential lifeline for us and all employers in our sector to retain highly skilled staff, and which should remain for companies in sectors where the recovery is in the longer term, such as the Events, Performing Arts, Entertainment Technology, TV & Film Sectors.
  • Extend the term of support for self-employed subcontractors. Our sector’s workforce is made up of 72% self-employed freelancers and without the right support, we are in danger of losing our workforce to other sectors, widening an already apparent skills gap.

The overall aim is to ensure events and entertainment are protected in the long-term. Providing consistent messaging to Government and everyone getting involved highlights how large our sectors are collectively, along with the value to the UK economy. One organisation can’t tackle this alone, which is why the initiative is asking the industry to come together to work on this.

The Associations are also encouraging people to complete two Government surveys, the Department of Culture Media and Sport’s (DCMS) call for evidence, and the DCMS impact assessment.

More information here.

Open Letters – How You Can Help

In an attempt to lobby the much needed support from the government to support our industry, there have been several open letters outlining what needs to be done, including one from Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture at the GLA as well as one from Bryan himself. We would encourage you to share these with your friends, social media channels and local MPs to ensure our needs and concerns are heard as widely as possible.

Read the Letter here,

Purple Seven & TRG Arts provide venue dashboards to assist with recovery planning

Purple Seven and TRG Arts are providing all interested venues access to their own online dashboard of key metrics demonstrating the impact COVID-19 is having on their organisation.

This dashboard will enable organisations to benchmark your dataset against your peers, and provides a range of key metrics, to assist you in short and long-term recovery planning.

The data given is provided in almost real-time, making it extremely accurate and useful for business planning. As part of this arrangement, SOLT & UK Theatre will also have access to country-wide data, to enable us to compile information which we can use to lobby government.

There is no charge for signing up to and accessing your dashboard, and organisations should be able to sign up within a matter of days.

The online sign-up process is quick and easy, via this link.

The Stage’s Coronavirus update page

Since our latest newsletter, there have been a lot of announcements made within the industry. The National Theatre has decided to stay closed until September, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is moving its entire programme to next year and several West End shows have announced their postponement. Whilst we don’t wish to be doom and gloom, we feel it’s important to have a realistic outlook so that we know the exact state of play moving forward. As always, The Stage’s Coronavirus update page is a great source for up-to-date industry news.


New SOLT/UKT website launched to help industry prepare for post-lockdown fightback

SOLT & UK Theatre have created TheatreMeansBusiness.info, an online platform highlighting a range of live and recorded webinars to equip the theatre industry with the tools to begin rebuilding after the COVID-19 lockdown ends.

Created by SOLT, UK Theatre and partner organisations and hosted by experts in their field, the webinars will cover topics currently front-of-mind to many theatre industry professionals including business interruption planning, audience development following extreme events, and professional and personal resilience.

The webinars have been designed to appeal to a range of levels of experience. Most do not require SOLT or UK Theatre membership to join, as the aim is to provide advice and support to as many offstage industry professionals as possible – whether someone is working from home on business planning, furloughed and needing inspiration, or new to the industry and wanting professional development.

To make them as accessible as possible many of the webinars will be free of charge – with some SOLT and UK Theatre sessions giving the option to make a contribution, to be split between the two organisations and the invited speaker. Some partner webinars may have a cost attached.

We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors for their ongoing support, and all the consultants and agencies we are working with on this project, many of whom have donated their time to help the industry as it rebuilds itself.

TheatreMeansBusiness.info has been created by SOLT/UK Theatre’s digital team within the last three weeks as a direct response to the extraordinary events of recent weeks. More webinars will be programmed in the coming weeks based on feedback and suggestions from the theatre sector.

Full information about each webinar can be found on TheatreMeansBusiness.info on the webinar event pages.

Free webinars from Creative England

In light of the current coronavirus crisis, Creative England has adapted the Future Studios programme by hosting a series of six free online webinars to support screen companies. Find out more about each webinar below.

2nd June 2pm: Rachel Richardson-Jones, Film Producer and Festival Director
4th June 2pm: Stuart Blackburn- Pitch Perfect: How to Sell Your Idea

Creative England is also hosting free to attend webinars as part of Ideate Plymouth, in partnership with Creative Kickstart.
4 June – 12.30: What are audiences looking for from immersive tech

Job Retention Scheme

  • June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICs) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
  • August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
  • October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.


  • The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended – with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570.
  • Applications for the second grant will open in August. Individuals will be able to claim a second taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single installment covering three months’ worth of profits.

Applications for Self-Employment Income Support Scheme open

From 8am on 13th May 2020 self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by Coronavirus will be able to apply for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits. This is earlier than expected. Self-Employed people have been invited to claim their SEISS grant on a specified date, from 13 – 18 May. They won’t be able to apply before their claim date but can make a claim after that day. People can check their date using HMRC’s online checker.

UK Theatre and Equity Commercial Theatre Agreement – COVID-19 Variation Agreement

UK Theatre and Equity have worked together to agree a variation to the Commercial Theatre Agreement for Actors and Stage Management designed to assist with the recovery of the industry and in particular, the touring sector.

Other than stated in the document, all of the other terms and conditions remain as set out in the CTA.

Guidance on statutory collective redundancy consultation procedure – SOLT and UK Theatre / BECTU agreements

SOLT and UK Theatre have produced guidance for members who are proposing to make 20 or more of their employees redundant where this number includes those employed under the SOLT or UK Theatre / BECTU agreement. The guidance is on the application of the statutory collective redundancy procedure to the BECTU employees who are at risk of redundancy.

Whilst SOLT and UK Theatre have been exploring the viability of alternatives to redundancy such as lay-offs / retainers such arrangements are very problematic given the absence of finance to fund them for the length of time that is expected to elapse before theatres are able to reopen.

Whilst BECTU is not opposed to the principle of lay-offs / retainers, they stress that such arrangements are subject to individual agreement with the employees concerned and, in the absence of a significant element of contractual pay continuing to be paid, the employee would still be entitled to claim that they are redundant and receive all contractual and statutory payments due.

Further information will be provided as soon as possible.

Resources for Teaching / Learning Theatre Online

OISTAT Education commission have collate a range of resources for teaching / learning theatre online with worldwide faculties and students. If you have any  resources you would like to share with them please do so through the link.

h Club London Membership

h Club London (formerly The Hospital Club) have today announced the launch of a brand new free online membership for people who work in the creative industries. The initiative will last for the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown period. The club hopes to support and connect individuals during this challenging time. This new online membership will provide creatives with networking opportunities with new and existing members of the clubs in varying creative industries, both in London and LA. Members will be given access to the club’s content via desktop and app which includes: the members news feed, where people can callout for project collaborators and test new ideas; the members network, where members can directly message each other, and the newsletter, which includes news from the club, helpful content and links to contributor blogs. Interested parties will need to fill out an application via https://bit.ly/hClubOnline, and all successful applicants will be notified within 48 hours of submitting an application.


With venues closing, tv and film production postponed and festivals cancelled, more than half of creative organisations and individuals have already seen a 100% drop in income. As such, the Creative Industries Federation has launched #OurWorldWithout which highlights what a world without culture would look like. The aim of this is to encourage the government to release urgent funding to help creative organisations and professionals who are facing particularly challenging times.

People Powered

A group of mobilised freelancers called People Powered have offered to help the NHS. If you could help or want to spread the word you can follow them on Twitter here.

3DCrowd UK

There are volunteers across the UK who are producing 3D printed Face Shields to help address the shortage of PPE in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • If you have a 3D Printer you can help.
  • If you have time available to package the PPE you can help.
  • If you know anyone in need of PPE – you can help. Just get in touch!

PPE and Theatres

  1. Does your theatre have any PPE equipment from your making workshops that might be better put to use by the NHS right now? Masks, gloves, protective clothing, sponges and wipes? We heard that the ROH and Museums have already given London Ambulance / NHS PPE equipment. We thought it was an amazing idea. So if your theatre hasn’t already done so, and you’d like to, we recommend contacting your local NHS / ambulance service / care homes to see what they need, and if you have anything suitable to safely donate. If you are in London, please email Covid-19PPEdonations@lond-amb.nhs.uk to see what they need / can use.
  2. For the love of scrubs… Members of the public up and down the country have been busy making scrubs, scrubs bags and hairbands for their local NHS. We learnt that the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Wardrobe Assistant Isabel Innes and other theatre makers have also been doing the same.

Call out for content supporting NHS

Solt UK writing a piece about how the theatre community is coming together to support NHS staff / key workers during this time (for example, costume designers making scrubs, peoplepowereduk.org, etc). Please send anything relevant to be included to kitty@soltukt.co.uk.

NEW INQUIRY: Impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors – please respond

Thank you to those members who have let us know they have responded to this enquiry. If you are yet to do so, please do directly submit evidence here by Friday 1st May. It will help to show how widely the impact of COVID-19 is being felt across the UK, by different types of organisations and individuals in the theatre sector. Please, if you don’t mind, also drop hannah@soltukt.co.uk a note to say if you are going to submit as knowing the number of people / orgs submitting in our sector will be useful in our advocacy.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Government Guidance Library

Alongside DCMS, we are pleased to bring together on our SOLT and UK Theatre websites links to all the government schemes and advice for the different parts of the theatre sector, whether you are a theatre, a production company, one of the many companies in the theatre ecology, or an individual who works in the sector. These links should take you to the latest “live” pages on other websites with the latest guidance and help.

Mandy’s Mini Home Movie Fest

While the world is in lockdown, many of us in the creative industries may find ourselves between work, with projects on hold or simply without a platform to unleash our creativity. Are you self-isolating with you, yourself and great ideas?Mandy’s Mini Home Movie Fest is your ticket to maximising your time indoors. Our brand new, international festival will see creatives from across the world write, shoot and direct original mini-movies from their own home, with the opportunity to win BIG!

Do you have theatre people can watch from home?

The government has put together an ongoing list of theatre, music and dance shows to watch from home during this period. If you would like your theatre’s show added, email info@theculturediary.com.

For London
Official London Theatre are listing all ways to watch theatre from home and promoting this via our social media channels. Please send all updates to news@soltukt.co.uk for inclusion. We are also planning to repurpose the press night diary for people to book their streamings to avoid clashes.

For UK Theatre
Theatre Tokens are listing ways to watch theatre from home for participating venues in the scheme and promoting this via their social media channels and in geo-targeted emails. Please send all updates to jamie@theatretokens.com for inclusion.

Stay At Home Messaging

We’d like to use the power of the theatre industry to encourage people to stay at home. If any actors/creatives can post content of what they are doing whilst staying at home, or a video message encouraging others to stay at home, we can share this on our channels.

Theatre charities campaign

Please visit the newly launched website. Please do share and retweet social posts about this initiative.

#LeaveaLightOn / #GhostLight

A #ghostlight is a single bulb left burning whenever a theatre is dark. Help us leave a light on for our industry by sharing photos with @theabtt of your theatres, sets, lighting and everything backstage to spread positivity and show that we will return soon!


SOLT and UK Theatre announce new Instagram Live series, #WestEndWarmUp, where Dance Captains/Choreographers will take us through a 30 minute pre-show warm-up. Tomorrow morning at 9.30am, Resident Choreographer of Waitress, Leanne Pinder will launch the series.

Cultural Institutions & Events affected by Coronavirus worldwide

Brunswick Arts has compiled a database of cultural institutions and events affected by Coronavirus globally.
Please help us to keep this database up to date with the latest information by adding any institutions or events you’re aware of.

This Google Sheet can be edited by anyone, so that we have a centralised resource of those who are affected.

If you’d like a weekly update of how Coronavirus is affecting culture and creative industries worldwide, you can sign up to the Brunswick Arts ‘Cultural Conversations’ by clicking this link.

Open Source – Google Sheet: Cultural Institutions & Events affected by Coronavirus worldwide