Theatre News

Relief and devastation: Theatres respond to the new tier rule announcement

Today has provided two very different responses from the theatre community

The Curve in Leicester
The Curve in Leicester
© Ellie Kurttz

Venues and thought leaders across England have responded to the new tier rules revealed today.

You can find out more about which tiers different parts of the country have been placed into here.

Under the new rules, the West End will be permitted to reopen with social distancing measures and capacity caps, but other parts of England will be forced to remain closed from 2 December until at least 17 December.

Chief executive of SOLT and UK Theatres Julian Bird said: "Today's Government announcement is a relief for theatres in tier one and two areas, including London's West End, but equally devastating for tier three theatres yet again forced to postpone or cancel shows – especially Pantos, usually an annual highlight for families and a vital source of income for theatres around the country. This risks the survival of many venues and leaves thousands of theatre professionals struggling over the Christmas period, particularly freelancers who cannot rely on Government support."

Theatres Trust director Jon Morgan said: "It is a terrible blow for the theatre sector that so many large towns and cities in England are now in tier three where theatres are not permitted to open. There are many theatres that we know were planning pantos and other shows for December and this news will be devastating for those organisations. They will have invested in rehearsals and other preparations for reopening and will now find themselves unable to recoup those costs, facing further financial strain in what has already been a catastrophic year."

Many venues across England placed into tier three were naturally dismayed but also determined to keep on providing for audiences where possible. Sheffield Theatres said: "We are committed to doing everything we can to bring the magic of panto to Sheffield this year. It's a relief to know that we are able to continue to rehearse shows under the current Tier 3 guidance.

"Our rehearsals for Damian's Pop Up Panto will begin on 6 December and we'll be preparing to welcome audiences back to the buildings from mid-December. We know that if we remain in tier three we won't be able to reopen to the public. We are remaining hopeful that the spread of the virus will slow and that we may move down to tier two, in which case we can reopen the Crucible's doors. Should Sheffield remain in tier three when the first review takes place, we'll adjust our plans and we hope to share the pantomime online.

"If ever there was a year when we need the joy of pantomime, it's this one and if ever there was a time for us to draw on all our reserves of hope, it's now!"

Curve in Leicester, another tier three location, said: "We are devastated by the news Leicester has been placed into tier three. This news is once again a huge blow for Curve and our city, which has been in a constant form of lockdown since March. We will not be defeated and will make further announcements as soon as we are in a position to do so.

"Across our sector, theatres like Curve have worked tirelessly to ensure buildings are safe for productions to be staged and audience members to return. Our heartfelt thoughts go to all of the other theatres who have been placed in tier three and therefore forced to close."

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