Many industries have been affected by the pandemic, with thousands of places permanently out of business. While much of the focus has been on the hospitality industry, arts and culture have taken a hard hit as well. Over 1,000 theaters in the UK are at risk of permanent closure.
Sonia Friedman, the producer behind The Book of Mormon and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, told The Telegraph that the British theater industry is on the “brink of total collapse,” and implored the government for a rescue package.
“Without an urgent government rescue package,” she said, “70% of our performing arts companies will be out of business before the end of this year,” she wrote.
Many theaters around the UK are facing financial woes and permanent closures, including the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh; the Nuffield Southampton and Southport theaters; the Royal and Derngate in Northampton; and Shakespeare’s Globe and National Theater in London.
Shakespeare’s Globe, which opened on London’s South Bank in 1997, has been one of the city’s most popular venues, attracting over one million visitors annually. Evidence submitted by the Globe to the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, paints a stark future, claiming, “Despite being well-managed, well governed, and — crucially — able to operate without public subsidy, we will not be able to survive this crisis.”
Unlike other businesses, theaters will not be saved once social distancing measures are lifted. Friedman warned that theater is “incompatible with social distancing” due to complexities involving audience seating and the actors themselves.
“Most theaters need to sell 60 percent of seats just to survive,” she said. “The shortfall is not sustainable. If we want theatres to reopen, they will, for a time, until another solution is found, still need financial support.”