Theatre boss says there is ‘very real danger’ venues will be lost to Covid-19

There is a “very real danger” that the Government’s failure to provide enough support to the theatre industry will result in venue closures, a theatre boss has said.

Tamara Harvey, who is the artistic director of Theatr Clwyd in Mold, north Wales, said that time is “short” and venues urgently need assistance.

She added that the impact of coronavirus has been “absolutely disastrous” for theatres.

Ms Harvey said the impact of Covid-19 on theatres has been ‘absolutely disastrous’ (Johan Persson/PA)

“There is a very real danger that unless the Government gives us a timeline and gives us a serious investment package very soon, more theatres and more individuals will reach the point of no return,” she told the PA news agency.

“We talk about the venues and the buildings because they are more immediately visible because of their size, but this is also about the majority of the people who make the shows work – the freelancers.”

They are “the lifeblood of theatre in this country and they are the reason that we are world-class leaders in culture”, Ms Harvey said, adding that freelancers are “waiting for any indication as to whether the Government will continue to invest in them”.

She added that there is still time for the Government to prevent theatres from going under.

Theatr Clwyd in Mold, north Wales (PA)

“It is too late for some… but it is not too late to save the sector,” she said.

Ms Harvey added that Government support would be an “investment”.

“We are not asking for a handout with no return. Our contribution as a sector, our economic contribution, is massive.

“Our contribution in terms of the health and well-being of society is equal to that if not greater.”

The sector is well-placed to bounce back because of the creativity and optimism of the workers in it, Ms Harvey said, adding: “We think a bad dress rehearsal means a good first night.

“Step up now and we will recover fast and recover creatively and reach not even the heights we were at before, even greater heights because that is the very nature of the people that we are,” she added.

Earlier this week the Theatre Royal in Newcastle announced plans to make half of its staff redundant and the Theatre Royal Plymouth said they are starting consultations about job losses following a plunge in revenues.

On Thursday Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden set out a five-page plan for the reopening of theatres, where live performances are currently banned.

He said he “desperately” wants live performances to resume in theatres and concert venues, adding he is “determined to ensure the performing arts do not stay closed longer than is absolutely necessary”.

Venues have been entitled to Government support such as the furlough scheme and loans.

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