British Theatre 'On The Brink Of Ruin' Without Government Help, Warns Producer Sonia Friedman
Writing in the Telegraph today, leading producer Sonia Friedman - responsible for numerous West End and international hit shows, including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Ferryman, Dreamgirls, The Book of Mormon, Sunny Afternoon, King Charles III and Funny Girl - warns that British theatre is "is on the brink of total collapse", unless the Government intervenes to help the industry.
Friedman says: "Without an urgent Government rescue package, 70 per cent of our performing arts companies will be out of business before the end of this year. More than 1,000 theatres around the country will be insolvent and might shut down for good."
Friedman observes that, unless there is significant external support, "arts and cultural organisations will have to spend their reserves until there is nothing left", and will enter administration - as Nuffield Southampton Theatres has already done.
Theatre is not alone in facing the unprecedented challenge of Coronavirus, acknowledges Friedman, however " the problem it is facing is a unique case and painfully simple": theatre companies have had virtually no income since mid-March, and have no way of replacing box office revenue. "Theatre can't offer takeaways. It can't shift its business online, welcome though the streaming of our shows has been."
Friedman estimates that this three-month shutdown has meant £330 million of income lost. What will happen if the closure lasts another six months, or even a year or more? It costs, she says, £30,000 a week to keep a West End playhouse closed.
Friedman points out that "theatre is incompatible with social distancing". Even selling just one seat in six causes problems, since most theatres "need to sell 60 per cent of seats just to survive".
However, theatre is a huge contributor to the UK. Friedman notes that it's worth around £5 billion annually to London's economy alone, and drives other sectors, such as restaurants and retailers, and the tourism sector. It's also a vital part of our cultural landscape - and is a talent pipeline for film and television - plus plays a major role in local communities.
"Our stages will hold the stories that help us collectively process what this country has been through," says Friedman. "Theatres will play a huge part in helping our society - our nation - to heal. Protecting and preserving what we have will cost far, far less than reconstructing it from the ruins. It is time to act."
More Hot Stories For You
Progress is being made in the world of musical theatre today, as OnStage Blog's Chris Peterson reports that Hairspray creator Marc Shaiman and Scott W... (read more)
Chris Trousdale, Former Member of DREAM STREET Who Began Career on Broadway, Has Died at 34
BroadwayWorld is saddened to report that actor and musicians Chris Trousdale has passed away. TMZ has reported that he passed away due to COVID-19. He... (read more)
Lea Michele Responds to Being Called Out for Behavior on GLEE Set- 'We Can All Grow and Change...'
Lea has now issued an apology in response. 'I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused,' says Michele. 'We can all grow and chan... (read more)
Amber Riley Responds to Lea Michele Drama With 'I Don't Give a S---. People Are Out Here Dying'
As BroadwayWorld reported yesterday, Lea Michele is under fire by various people who have worked with her on stage and screen over the years. The late... (read more)
NAACP Encourages Moment of Silence Today to Honor George Floyd
NAACP is asking that everyone joins in for a moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds today, June 4, at 3:45pm.... (read more)
Diane Paulus Responds to Griffin Matthews
Tony-winning director Diane Paulus has released a statement regarding the creative process behind the musical, Witness Uganda.... (read more)