Theatre News

National Theatre warns of 'a substantial level of staff redundancy' without further government support

The venue has said it may have to reduce staff costs by 20 to 30 per cent

National Theatre
National Theatre
© Carlos Delgado / CC BY-SA (

The National Theatre's two chief executives Rufus Norris and Lisa Burger have issued a joint statement regarding the venue's staffing costs and its future.

According to the central London venue, unless there is additional support from the government, it will have to reduce its staff costs by 20 to 30 per cent. No conclusions have yet been reached, with the theatre currently going through the process of modelling redundancies.

Philippa Childs, the head of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU) said in response that: "This is devastating news for all staff at the National Theatre and the wider theatre industry" and advised that the National should wait for the government to provide "clarity to how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will continue to operate to stop employers taking such serious decisions". It then called on the government to "step-up and urgently provide an effective recovery plan".

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak said this week that he would be providing further information regarding the future of the CJRS by the end of the month.

You can donate to the National Theatre here while it faces the "devastating impact" of COVID-19.

The statement in full:

"The National Theatre has been closed since March. Social distancing measures to control Coronavirus set to be in place for months to come, which make performing to large audiences impossible. As a result, over 75% of our income is currently cut off and we expect the financial impact of Coronavirus to extend into next year and beyond. Having undertaken extensive financial modelling, we have sadly reached the conclusion that there will need to be a substantial level of staff redundancy at the National Theatre.

"Over half our annual expenditure is on people, and while in the short-term we have used our limited cash reserves and support from the UK Government's Job Retention Scheme, a significant financial gap remains. We are calling for additional urgent Government support for the theatre sector including the NT to mitigate the loss of vital talent and infrastructure. However, we must also plan proactively ourselves to protect the future of the National Theatre as an organisation and a major creative employer. It's our duty to ensure the National Theatre remains a vital part of the UK's lifeblood for many years to come.

"At this stage we are not able to say how many roles will be affected, but we will continue to communicate with all our staff and consult with our unions as the picture becomes clearer. We appreciate this is an incredibly difficult time for everyone and it is hard to express how devastated we are to be having to plan to lose some of our brilliant workforce. The National Theatre has, from its very first days, been an organisation which has been driven by the extraordinary creativity and commitment of the people who work here.  

Rufus Norris and Lisa Burger
Joint Chief Executives"