‘Time is running out to save the future of our theatres’: Call on Boris to pay up grant aid

Norwich Theatre chief executive Stephen Crocker outside the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Norwich Thea

Norwich Theatre chief executive Stephen Crocker outside the Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Norwich Theatre - Credit: Archant

Theatre and union bosses are calling for the government to pay up grant aid as the full scale of job losses emerges.

Norwich's Theatre Royal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich's Theatre Royal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

More than 5,000 people have lost their jobs in the theatre industry including in Norwich because of coronavirus, a union has said.

Around 2,300 of the jobs being axed are at major regional theatres including the Norwich Theatre Royal and Playhouse which announced last month it was forced to cut 113 jobs, half its staff.

The sector was plunged into uncertainty by the pandemic after productions across the country were put on hold. Last week the prime minister postponed plans to allow indoor socially distanced performances inside theatre and music venues.

The union said the number of redundancies in the industry had risen by 2,000 since the July announcement of the government’s total £1.57 billion support package for the arts which will be used to help organisations including theatres, music venues, museums and galleries.

It comes after more than 30 of the region’s theatre leaders backed the government plan but are still waiting for the money to be distributed.

Theatre Royal boss Stephen Crocker tweeted: “This is us, a collective of arts leaders united by a passion for what we do and our region, offering a plan. It’s just as valid whether you live in London or your own village, in a major venue or community hall or whether it’s panto or ballet. Our whole sector has been impacted and the right distribution mechanisms must be put in place to reach the whole.”

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Philippa Childs, head of Bectu, The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union, said: “The clock is still ticking to save the future of the theatre industry and these figures demonstrate the scale of the crisis it is facing.

“In July we warned that a storm would turn into a tsunami without further assistance. Despite details of the arts recovery package being announced we are still nowhere closer to the money being distributed. The tsunami we predicted is about to reach our shores as the timeline for action from the government has been too slow and there has been no flexibility for the industry and its access to the furlough scheme.”

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