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National Lottery announces nationwide scheme to support socially distanced pantomimes

A number of pantos will be going ahead – oh yes they will!

Beverley Knight
© Paul Coltas

A new nationwide campaign to support pantomime productions across the UK has been unveiled.

As part of the scheme, dubbed "Operation Sleeping Beauty" by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the National Lottery will buy seats that need to remain empty to enable social-distancing, making productions more viable for producers.

The first such show to use the system will be Pantoland at The London Palladium, which has just unveiled its panto. The Lottery will also be providing free tickets for players to win, plus bonus prizes such as a chance to sit in the box at the Palladium.

Dowden said: "Today, we launch Operation Sleeping Beauty. We must hope for the best and plan for the worst. Our hope is to get some panto back on this Christmas, and despite the very challenging backdrop we are going to give it our best shot. We have already supported the sector with our £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund and I'm grateful to National Lottery players for helping to make this happen."

Many venues have already postponed their annual pantos, including venue owners ATG, so it is unclear how many venues will be supported by the scheme.

Further details, including venues taking part in the scheme are expected in the coming weeks.

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