Theatre News

Culture Secretary unveils plans to test safe indoor performances and protect venues from demolition

The MP has released plans to safeguard venues and allow outdoor performances

An auditorium
An auditorium

The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has unveiled he will be testing indoor performances imminently.

Speaking at a press conference today, Dowden said that pilots for indoor performances will be taking place with the London Symphony Orchestra at St Luke's, at The London Palladium and at Butlin's to test guidelines for indoor productions during the ongoing pandemic.

In addition, the government are investigating how live singing and musical instruments can affect the transmission of the virus. This will be done in partnership with Public Health England, professional musicians from the Royal Opera House and the BBC and scientists from Imperial College, London and Bristol University.

Today, Dowden also announced that it will be possible to stage safe outdoor performances from 11 July, with more information available here.

In a move that will be welcome to many venue owners, Dowden has also stated that: "We are also taking steps through the planning system to protect theatres and venues from demolition or change of use".

Jon Morgan from The Theatres Trust said: "Theatres Trust welcomes today's news of revisions to the planning system, which will help prevent vacant theatres from being demolished or irreversibly changed for other uses. We have been campaigning to strengthen protections for theatre buildings in the planning system and we are pleased that the government has responded to our proposal so positively.

"The Covid-19 lockdown has rendered otherwise vibrant theatres vulnerable to permanent closure and we have already seen four operators go into liquidation, leaving their theatres empty. These measures will help ensure these vital community assets are protected during the current crisis and can be revived to serve their local communities once again."

Earlier this week the government unveiled a major financial package to support the arts industry throughout the pandemic, though specifics about the nature of funding have yet to be revealed. Dowden has also not yet announced any return date for indoor performances.