‘Dark day for Norwich’ as Theatre Royal lays off half its staff

The Theatre Royal in Norwich has made half its staff redundant. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Theatre Royal in Norwich has made half its staff redundant. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Bosses at the Norwich Theatre Royal have said they are “heart-broken” at having to axe more than half their staff.

The city centre venue announced this morning that 113 roles had been made redundant – 53pc of its head count – with a further 59 zero-hours contract staff told they are no longer needed.

The news comes at a critical time for the theatre industry, which has been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

MORE: Norwich Theatre Royal to axe 113 jobs Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre, said: “Our staff are the lifeblood of our organisation and my team and I have done all we can to support and protect them over these past few months and will continue to do so as we explore all options through this consultation process.

“On their behalf I remain shocked and angry that the government is standing idle as an industry that has delivered so much to this country and is so vital to its recovery is being allowed to fade into dust. “I will continue to fight hard for our staff, our theatres and our whole industry but this is an incredibly dark day for us and for arts and culture in Norwich, Norfolk and the East of England. I am simply heart-broken.”

The theatre said it had been forced to make the cuts due to “huge financial losses” with a projected period of another six months before operations can resume. The theatre announced this week that it had postponed its 2020 pantomime. Michael Newey, chairman of the trustees of Norwich Theatre, said: “As trustees we are custodians of Norwich Theatre and it is our duty to ensure that we protect our charitable mission and our ability to carry out that mission into the future.

“The coronavirus lockdown saw us immediately lose 95pc of our income and this scale of ongoing financial loss is no longer sustainable. With no large scale productions able to go ahead until next year, no clear date for when we will be able to operate at full scale again and no public funding intervention forthcoming, we have been forced to mandate the chief executive to begin a major restructuring project to reduce our costs. “We know that this is a devastating decision for our staff and every trustee wishes that we had a different way forward. They will all be fully supported by the Chief Executive and his team during this difficult time as the consultation process begins.

“Without government support, we have been left with no other option if we are to make a guarantee to our audiences that we will survive this crisis and welcome them back to our buildings next year.”