I feel positive about ailing theatre sector’s prospects, says Sam Mendes

Sir Sam Mendes has said that he feels “positive” about the prospect of a solution being found to support the country’s ailing theatre sector through the lockdown.

Earlier this week, the acclaimed director of films such as Skyfall and 1917 and plays such as The Lehman Trilogy and The Ferryman put forward his suggestions for how to stop theatres going under during the period.

He now feels that his proposals have been “listened to”, he told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

The British Academy Film Awards Nominees’ Party – London
Mendes is the director of films such as Skyfall and 1917 (Ian West/PA)

He said: “I do feel there’s a way through here. I feel very positive about it, I think one has to stay positive.

“I believe there’s a way here and I feel that is a sense that has been listened to and over the next couple of weeks this might begin to have some purchase.”

The situation facing the sector is “very serious indeed”, he added.

“I think we have already seen dreadful warnings across the country.”

Theatres have closed in locations including Southampton and Southport, he added.

“We have seen whole communities now beginning to be deprived of the possibility of live performance for the future and I think it is very important that one stresses this is not just a theatre closing down until it can reopen again,” he said.

Coronavirus
Theatres have already been closed for weeks (Victoria Jones/PA)

“These are theatres going into receivership that are going to reopen as nightclubs or just be torn down or as bingo halls and I think that is the degree of seriousness and that is the situation we find ourselves in at the moment.”

The arts are a “huge, massive economic growth engine” that should be supported by the Government through this difficult period, he added.

He argued that the continuation of job retention schemes, tax relief and Government investment in productions could all help to ensure theatres do not permanently close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In his Financial Times article, Sir Sam also called on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon that are “making lockdown millions” to step in and save an industry which has nurtured its talent pools.

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