Theatre sector welcomes new working group for solutions to enable the sector to reopen

21 May 2020

Theatre sector welcomes the establishment of a specific new group to find solutions to enable sector to reopen amidst warnings that 70% of venues will run out of cash by the end of the year

21st May, London: The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre welcome the latest announcement from DCMS to set up a new Entertainment and Events Working Group and looks forward to working together with Arts Council England, Association of British Orchestras, One Dance UK and many other organisations to find solutions that enable us to open our venues and businesses safely.

“We have been liaising closely with our members and then with DCMS to ensure that the complex needs of theatre are understood. Theatre currently has no income coming in and over 70% of our venues will run out of cash by the end of the year if we are not able to find an alternative model to social distancing. The formation of this taskforce is critical.”

Julian Bird Chief Executive Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre

In preparation we have already set up three working groups with representatives from freelancers and organisations across the broad theatre and performing arts industry to ensure that we have practical and workable solutions that we can feed into the new working group. This will also enable us to have important discussions with Public Health England and other specialists. We will expand these groups as necessary but currently the key focuses are:

  • Rehearsals and pre-production
  • Operating venues safely
  • Touring

Theatre and the performing arts make a powerful contribution to our society and to our national identity. Theatre is at the heart of communities across the UK and makes areas richer both culturally and financially. The shared experience and feel good factor of a night at the theatre is part of our cultural identity and enhances our well-being.

The current situation has had a devastating impact on our sector. We employ over 290,000 people and currently over 70% of those jobs are at risk and many theatres are facing a perilous future. Across the UK over 34 million people visit our theatres each year generating ticket revenue of £1.2 billion.

In order for us to survive we need to work together with national and local government on a solution that allows our theatres to open safely, so our audiences and staff feel confident and we can continue to entertain and inspire people as we have been doing for hundreds of years.

Industry Facts & Figures

  • Approx 290,000 employed in the UK theatre industry. At present, over 70% of these roles are identified as at risk. Over 50% of roles in our industry are currently being paid through the UK Furlough Scheme
  • 1 in 6 jobs in London is in the creative industry
  • In 2019, 18,364 performances took place across London’s theatres, bringing in £799m in box office revenue and generating £133m in VAT payments for the UK Treasury
  • In 2018 audiences for theatres across the rest of the country topped 18.8 million with a box office turnover of £509 million
  • Under normal circumstances, the annual UK theatre audience is over 34 million
  • 300,000 people visit West End theatres in a normal week

Media Contacts

Emma De Souza, Head of Marketing and Communications, Society of London Theatre | UK Theatre | 07872501995