Traverse Theatre to shed third of workforce as no performances likely this year

The Traverse Theatre is set to make a third of its staff redundant as it expects to remain shut until the end of the year.

A statement from the Edinburgh venue said the “unfathomable” situation has arisen because staging performances with social distancing measures in place is not financially viable.

It claims to have lost two-thirds of its earned income since March 21 through a lack of loss of ticket sales, hire fees, hospitality sales and fundraising.

Sir John Elvidge, chairman of the Traverse Theatre board, and its chief executive Linda Crooks said in a joint statement: “This extreme impact of Covid-19 on our operations means that to ensure the Traverse exists long into the future, continuing to develop artists and delight audiences for many years to come, we must restructure the organisation, remodel our work and reduce costs to ensure our survival.

“We have therefore had to make the painfully difficult decision to enter into redundancy consultation with a number of our team in customer-facing and technical roles, with the likelihood that almost a third of our staff will be made redundant.

“We have worked tirelessly to explore all possible avenues and prevent this awful situation, but we currently have no other choice in order to protect the future of the Traverse and the vibrant organisation on which our community relies.

“As we are unable to open our performance spaces to audiences whilst social distancing continues, and with many of our vital income streams being unavailable, it isn’t financially viable for the Traverse to present performances in the format with which we have all been familiar.

Actress in army uniform
The theatre is one of the venues during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Toby Farrow/Sherman Cymru Theatre/PA)

“We simply wouldn’t have enough seats safely available to cover our costs, or be able to offer affordable tickets.

“We don’t know how long this is likely to be the case, but at present we anticipate being closed to audiences until the end of 2020 at the earliest.

“It seems almost unfathomable, but it is our reality.”

The venue was founded in 1963 as a way to prolong the cultural exposure seen during the city’s festival season.

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