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'It will not be economically viable' – reactions to the government's green light for socially distanced indoor shows

The industry has reacted to the latest announcement by the Prime Minister

An auditorium

Industry figures have been reacting to the news that indoor performances will be permitted from 1 August.

Jon Morgan, director of the Theatres Trust, said: "The Theatres Trust welcomes the Prime Minister's announcement today that theatres can reopen from 1 August for live performances with a socially distanced audience. Alongside the support package and performing arts guidance announced last week, this is a step in the right direction, but for most theatres it will not be economically viable to reopen with 30 to 40 per cent audience required under social distancing.

"We now need to progress as quickly as possible to an announcement on the all-important Stage 5, allowing theatres to reopen fully with the appropriate safety measures. Without this most theatres cannot reopen viably and we need the go-ahead for Christmas shows, on which the survival of many theatres depends, in the next few weeks at the very latest."

Award winning choreographer Matthew Bourne took to Twitter to say: "Why make these announcements when they know that the vast majority of theatre, dance and music is not financially viable under "Covid secure" conditions?"

Julian Bird, CEO of Society of London Theatres, said: "Delighted indoor performances can resume from 1 August! Socially distanced audiences for now but we hope to build towards full audiences very soon!"

SOLT and UK Theatre added in a statement: ""SOLT and UK Theatre are delighted that indoor performances can resume with socially distanced audiences from 1 August.

"With the restrictions of social distancing in place it will not be practical or economically viable for many shows to open and it takes time for shows to rehearse and prepare and to build up an audience. However this is another welcome step on the road map towards opening with full audiences very soon."

Head of BECTU (the union for 40,000 creative staff, contract and freelance workers), Philippa Childs said: "News that theatres can restart indoor performances to live audiences from 1 August is a significant development for the industry.

"However, we know that theatres and venues will not be open in two weeks' time. Theatres will have to bring back productions, sell tickets, conduct rehearsals and prepare for how they will operate in a Covid-secure way before they can open up again.

"Socially distanced audiences will not provide the revenue for these businesses to be fully viable again without government support and it's not clear how confident people will be about returning to theatres.

"This announcement brings into sharp focus the need for urgent answers to the pressing questions that we have been asking since the arts recovery package was announced nearly two weeks ago.

"The industry still needs to know which organisations will be getting the money, how much they will get and will it be in the form of a loan or a grant. This information is crucial to help save the livelihoods of those working in the Sector and to halt redundancy consultations."

Performer's union Equity added: "We welcome the news that theatres and performance venues can reopen with social distancing in August, but the reality is the vast majority will not be opening. Creative workers need clarity on how the arts funding package will support them to get back to work safely."