Shakespeare's Globe, Really Useful Group, Donmar Warehouse and More Seek Government Support from COVID-19 Impact

By: May. 18, 2020
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Shakespeare's Globe, Really Useful Group, Donmar Warehouse and More Seek Government Support from COVID-19 Impact

This afternoon it was reported that Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is facing closure due to the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on its finances.

"Without emergency funding and the continuation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we will spend down our reserves and become insolvent," Shakespeare's Globe said in evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Now the committee is calling on Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to provide relief to UK arts institutions, stating, "The Government needs to step up for cultural institutions. Additional financial support needs to be provided to individuals and institutions in the creative industries that are unsuccessful or ineligible for Arts Council England (ACE) funding."

DCMS also submitted evidence from the Donmar Warehouse and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group pointing to the severity of the situation for the UK arts sector.

Donmar echoed similar sentiments to The Globe, staring, "Unless we now cancel a forthcoming and essential capital project, we will have no funds to transition our model to a more sustainable one, create artistically adventurous work with inherent risk, cashflow the business or cushion the effects of any further crisis or downturn."

They continue, "The cancellation/delay of the project means there is a high likelihood of equipment failure in the near future and will put the business continuity of the theatre at risk, even if we survive the COVID-19 emergency."

In addition to public donations, Donmar asks that the government extend its job retention program for the arts and entertainment sector until venues can legally resume and play to 100% of their normal capacity.

The Globe, which notably offers affordable pricing and free tickets to students, has proposed that "the government purchases in advance up to 20 per cent of Globe tickets for the next five years for disbursement to groups experiencing barriers to engagement would improve cash-flow." The venue says that a new survival-based business model would compromise its ability to continue to offer the affordable seating.

The Really Useful Group is also posting alarming losses of "£6.15 million lost in box office sales each week... and a £240,000 loss in average weekly earnings for RUG."

RUG's prediction for the future is a bleak one should the government not intervene, stating that the fallout from the pandemic "may result in the theatres themselves (both West End and regional theatres) having to endure increased dark periods without any programming...and in some cases the possibility of theatres closing permanently or being sold for alternative uses."

DCMS agrees, adding, "The Theatres Trust anticipates the closure of a significant proportion of theatres and a lasting impact on the UK's position as a world leader in the sector."

Really Useful Group recommends protocols being used in other markets to jump start the arts sector safely including front of house training on temperature scanning technology, making masks mandatory within the venues, and backing testing and tracking efforts.

Read the full story here.

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