Government road map for return of live theatre ‘meaningless’ without support

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The chief executive of Birmingham Hippodrome has hit out at the Government’s roadmap for the return of live theatre and music which has been met with calls for financial support and a timetable for reopening.

Fiona Allan has criticised the guidelines, a five-step plan which did not come with dates or monetary help attached.

Venues have been shut since March, with many warning that they will go out of business in the coming months without support.

Allan said: “A few months ago it was inconceivable that the UK may lose its theatre industry, and yet, we are now on the brink. The five stage ‘road map’ issued by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is completely meaningless without a an indicative timeframe and a financial support package.

“We already know what needs to happen and in what order to gets theatres back to being financially viable businesses. The ‘roadmap’ tells us nothing of practical use.

“Without a timeframe and support package the industry will suffer more devastation, more jobs will be lost, more venues and companies will close.

“If this continues we could end this year with no theatre sector left to speak of and the UK will have lost one of its greatest international assets. We desperately need action now from government, not just empty words.”

Earlier this month, Birmingham Hippodrome warned that around 60 members of staff at a theatre could be made redundant in an attempt to save the venue.

Birmingham Hippodrome said it had to scale back areas of the business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The theatre, which currently employs about 130 members of staff, said it had entered a period of redundancy consultations.

A government spokesperson said: “We want to get the performing arts fully back up and running safely as soon as possible and are working closely with the sector on a phased approach, guided by public health and medical experts.”

The plan for a “phased return” will initially let performances take place outdoors, with indoors performances to follow later.
Stage One – Rehearsal and training (no audiences and adhering to social distancing guidelines)
Stage Two – Performances for broadcast and recording purposes (adhering to social distancing guidelines)
Stage Three – Performances outdoors with an audience plus pilots for indoor performances with a limited distance audience
Stage Four – Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (but with a limited distanced audience indoors)
Stage Five – Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (with a fuller audience indoors)