Theatre News

Sonia Friedman: 70 per cent of performing arts companies will be out of business by the end of the year

The theatre producer wrote in ”The Telegraph”

Sonia Friedman
Sonia Friedman
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Leading West End producer Sonia Friedman has written in The Telegraph, stating that "British theatre is on the brink of collapse".

Friedman has called on the government to step in and help the industry – which has seen its venues up and down the country shut since mid-March.

With no concrete return date in sight (Friedman has said closures could last six months, or even over a year), many have been forced to furlough large portions of their workforces and have been unable to work alongside freelancers, with the Nuffield Southampton Theatres being placed in administration.

Friedman has warned that Nuffield is just the first of what could be a massive number of organisations closing – "70 per cent of our performing arts
companies will be out of business before the end of this year". While she commends the job retention scheme, Friedman added that "the second it stops, theatres will sink."

Shakespeare's Globe in London warned earlier this week that without any emergency funding it would be forced to close.

The producer, whose shows include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and The Book of Mormon, has had to shut down 18 productions globally in the last ten weeks.

Many government measures preventing the spread of COVID-19 just don't work for venues, or as Friedman puts it: "theatre is incompatible with social distancing".

The value of the theatre cannot be underestimated – it provides £5 billion for London's economy on an annual basis. It is a vital aspect of the tourism sector.

You can read the full article here.