Theatre News

Open-air theatres pen letter to culture secretary asking to open 'at the earliest opportunity' in Spring

A coalition of arts leaders has penned the letter

Shakespeare's Globe
Shakespeare's Globe

An assortment of open-air venues and companies as well as think tank "Out to Perform" have penned a letter asking the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden for permission to open with social distancing 'at the earliest opportunity'.

Hoping to 'spearhead the UK's post-lockdown cultural revival', the coalition states that open-air productions with necessary precautions should be permitted as soon as Spring, "due to the inherently Covid-safer environment of the rapid dispersal of aerosols outside".

The letter highlights how over half a million people safely watched outdoor shows last year, during the pandemic, stating that the government: "should consider allowing the segment of the performing arts with the lowest Covid risks to lead the national cultural revival and reopen after lockdown ends."

The coalition believes that, even if large-scale summer festivals cannot go ahead (Glastonbury, for example, has already been cancelled), then smaller (eg, fewer than 500 spectators), local experiences could take their place.

Zoe Curnow, executive director of the picturesque Minack Theatre in Cornwall said: "We are optimistic that, as long as events comply with protocols such as the well-established social distancing measures, the government will consider allowing the legion of experienced arts professionals to begin preparing for outdoor performances to resume."

Signatories include Mehmet Ergen (artistic director of the Arcola Theatre), Annilese Miskimmon (artistic director of English National Opera), Catherine Mallyon (executive director of Royal Shakespeare Company), Neil Constable (chief executive of Shakespeare's Globe) and director Timothy Sheader.

A "roadmap" for opening up British society post-lockdown is expected next Monday.

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