WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

Culture Secretary: Arts venues can open for rehearsals and streamed performances

The news was confirmed at 9pm on a Monday evening

Shaftesbury Avenue

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has provided information on whether or not theatres will be able to rehearse shows over the coming weeks, in light of the government's recent lockdown announcement.

On Saturday the Prime Minister said entertainment venues had to "close" from later this week, though did not expressly say that spaces could remain open for live-streams or rehearsals.

Taking to Twitter at 9pm on a Monday, Dowden cleared up the confusion. Responding to a question about rehearsals and streams he said: "Arts venues are places of work, so people can come into them for work, if it cannot be undertaken from home. This includes rehearsals and performance. Audiences are not permitted."

Dowden has, in effect, given the green light to live-streamed shows without audiences from 5 November, which are set to take place in theatres like Chichester Festival Theatre, the Old Vic or Southwark Playhouse. More may do the same over the coming weeks.

"Arts venues" should, presumably, include any designated space used for professional rehearsals – meaning that performers can come into these places and carry out their work as and when necessary. Rules regarding amateur productions have not been clarified, but, making a reasoned guess, we'd say that since these locations are not workplaces then they cannot be used for rehearsals or streams.

Kenny Wax, producer of Six the Musical, chatted on BBC London News earlier today and said he intends for the smash-hit show's West End cast to rehearse ahead of the 5 December return.

Ambiguity over guidance was highlighted yesterday by the Theatres Trust, who urged swift clarification so that productions can prepare for a potential December reopening, if the government sticks to their proposed lockdown timeline.

Of course, lockdown measures may extend beyond the beginning of December, but at the moment many productions are using 3 December as a proposed return date.

Dowden reiterated the point that audiences will not be permitted during this upcoming lockdown time.

Sign up to our daily newsletter for industry updates