Theatre News

'We've got six to eight weeks' – regional theatres warn of survival woes

The impact of lockdowns and social distancing has been highlighted

© Lighthouse Poole

A new BBC report has shone a light on the plight of regional theatres across the UK.

Elspeth McBain, chief executive of Lighthouse Theatre Poole told BBC News – "We've got six to eight weeks, where we can survive. But beyond that it would be difficult."

McBain added: "Opening with social distancing would give us 16 to 20 per cent capacity, which for any venue is not going to cut the mustard."

Roy Alexander Weise, co-artistic director of the Royal Exchange in Manchester, told the BBC that "just like everyone else, we're clinging on for dear life trying to see what will happen next, and all we can do is prepare ourselves as best we can to brace for whatever the landscape looks like."

Elizabeth Newman of Pitlochry Festival Theatre said "We need to be looking at how we can make work that adheres to government guidelines, but also we need to make sure that we're solvent". The venue is currently exploring whether or not it'd be feasible to hold outdoor performances, where social distancing may be easier to implement.

Last week the Nuffield Southampton Theatres went into administration citing a huge loss of revenue due to ongoing lockdowns. Since then, a new petition has been launched to try and save the trust.

The problems in regional theatres affect the whole performing arts eco-system. Nica Burns, producer of Everybody's Talking About Jamie and owner of Nimax Theatres, said the musical was "made in Sheffield. The moment I saw it, I went straight to the director and told him I'd give him a theatre and I wanted to produce it."

The show originally ran in Sheffield at the theatre's Crucible, transferring to the Apollo Theatre where it runs to this day. Burns added: "London is the capital, but we're a country of many voices and many points of views, and we need to represent those."

"The theatres in each of these towns, in Liverpool for example, belong to the people.", actress Kim Cattrall said.