SOLT (Society of London Theatre) and UK Theatre, two umbrella organisations overseeing the welfare and upkeep of performing arts venues across the country, have submitted further evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) regarding the impact of coronavirus and ways to reopen venues safely and practically.
Within the evidence SOLT and UK Theatre highlighted that the venues they represent generate annual ticket revenue of £1.28 billion, with 290,000 individuals employed. According to recent reports, 70 per cent of such jobs are at risk with the same volume of theatres expected to run out of cash by the end of 2020.
The report submitted to DCMS calls for the continuation and developement of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, set up to financially support furloughed workers, as well as further means for helping freelancers and self-employed artists.
They also advise that, for sectors unable to reopen even when lockdown measures are eased slightly (such as theatres), the government continues to fully fund the furlough scheme until October.
Furthermore, the report states that the recovery of the arts must be helped through modifications to the theatre production tax relief scheme, to allow businesses to reopen swiftly and without excess financial pressure. A key aspect of this will be insurance and liability, with only 12 per cent of organisations believing they will be able to get the insurance necessary for reopening.
Finally, SOLT and UK Theatre call for the establishment of an Emergency Relief Fund and the creation of a new Cultural Investment Participation Scheme, encouraging the public to get behind institutions and safeguard them from the impacts of the pandemic.
The two organisations highlighted just how much money would be lost by the treasury (around £130m in VAT for West End theatres alone) if theatres are forced to close permanently due to lack of support.
The Chancellor is expected to address financial measures regarding the lockdown in a press briefing today (29 May).