10 things you can do to help theatres during the pandemic

Theatres are in uncertain times during the pandemic

An empty space
An empty space

As it is repeatedly said, these are unprecedented times both for society and our industry. In March theatres across the nation went dark and since then lights have been flickering on, then off, across the nation.

Even with the government's support package, many will be scrambling to make ends meet over the coming months, which in turn will have a drastic impact on artists, freelancers, makers, technicians, and anyone working behind-the-scenes on stages across the nation. Here are a selection of ways to help.

1.Donate to charities supporting the industry

There are a raft of charities that have already mobilised to help those, especially freelancers, who don't have any money to support themselves as opportunities and productions shut down across the UK. A few of them are www.actingforothers.co.uk, www.royalvarietycharity.org, www.actorsbenevolentfund.co.uk. The "Shows Must Go On" and the Theatre Artists Fund campaigns has already been making millions for those in need.

2. Buy venue memberships

A small way to give theatres cash injections (and to give yourselves perks and access to tickets for post-lockdown shows ahead of time) is to buy into membership, friend and loyalty schemes available on their websites. A win-win, if you have the means to help out in a financial way.

3. Donate over refund

A lot of venues are asking, if they have the means, for patrons to refund and instead see their ticket cost as a donation to help the theatre continue to function. Considering almost every venue relies on ticket income to survive, the goodwill of audiences is vital to keeping institutions afloat during these trying times.

4. Buy play scripts

Even if you don't have a chance to watch a full production, you can still have play scripts delivered to you – which will allow you to support writers and companies across the UK, as well as our incredible assortment of script publishers. This doesn't just apply to scripts of course, you can also pick up instructional guides, theatre how-tos and general arts-related books.

5. Be patient

If you're a ticket holder, the best thing to do is wait for your venue to contact you regarding your performance. Trust us – the theatre workforce, freelance and salaried, is full of brilliant and ingenious people that will be completely snowed under after the November announcement. But they will be in touch (oh, and be sure to check your spam – a lot of updated ticket details can go there!).

6. Buy merchandise

There are a ton of venue-owned online stores available so you can always find stage-y gifts to purchase. A great way to give someone a pick-me-up during these trying times.

7. Watch shows and performances online, and donate where possible

In this digital age, a show can still go on even if there's no one in the room. Many producers have been cooking up ways to create content to keep performers in work and put shows in front of theatre-lovers. We'll be covering these as and when they come up – with services like stream.theatre or BroadwayHD giving some wonderful creative fixes. There are also always cast recordings!

The West End cast of Leopoldstadt
The West End cast of Leopoldstadt
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

8. Shout about things

Social media is there and is a vital way of linking up artists and opportunities in a time where they're at a scarcity. There are great Facebook groups that provide hourly updates on situations and advice. It's more important than ever to make sure people aren't feeling mentally isolated and worried – reach out to your fellow makers and make sure they're okay – there are a great wad of links here on Exeunt.

9. Subscribe, sign-up and keep an eye-out

At the moment, we don't know when things are going to go back to "normal" – or if venues will be able to reopen in December. But if you follow your favourite venues on social media, sign-up for newsletters or bookmark pages, you can be there to cheer on the industry in what might be its darkest hour. WhatsOnStage's daily newsletter is available here, for example.

10. Look ahead

It may all look uncertain at the moment, but it is only through resilience that the industry will keep itself going. It's never too early to think about finding the light at the end of the tunnel – if you're an audience member then start drawing up a wish list of shows you might want to book for.