Theatres in Bristol, Coventry and Exeter are among the latest to confirm they have begun redundancy consultations, as the fallout from months of closure continues.
More than 50% of staff at Exeter Northcott Theatre could be at risk of losing their jobs, with 21 roles under threat at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre and a requirement to cut staff costs by as much as 70% at Tobacco Factory Theatres in Bristol.
Northcott artistic director Daniel Buckroyd said the theatre was unsuccessful in its bid to Arts Council England for emergency funding because it is not in danger of closing before September.
However, Buckroyd said that this, combined with the end of the furlough scheme and the impact of losing 90% of its income, which comes through ticket sales, meant it must look to cut staff.
"While the recent announcement of government investment in the culture, heritage and arts sectors points to the possibility of support at some point in the future, without clarity about eligibility for this and a detailed timetable for the reopening of theatres, we are left with no option but to start the first stage of consultations with staff about the probability of over 50% redundancies," he said.
The Northcott currently has a permanent staff base of about 50 people, according to the Charity Commission, but it has not shared the specific number of roles affected by the consultations.
Of the 96 employees at the Belgrade, 21 jobs are at risk. A statement from executive director Joanna Reid said this had been revised down from 27 after several staff members volunteered to reduce their hours to protect as many jobs as possible.
"Sadly the government rescue package’s timing and process make it unlikely that this will have an immediate impact on the consultation, because we now know that we will be unable to put on performances for several more months," she said, adding: "All departments will be affected, but those posts associated with putting on performances are those currently most at risk."
Reid added that she welcomed the news of the government’s rescue package for theatre. "We know that theatres have an important role to play in supporting the economic, social and mental health of their communities, so we will continue to do whatever we possibly can to safeguard the future of the Belgrade," she said.
A joint statement from Tobacco Factory Theatres’ artistic director Mike Tweddle and acting executive director David Dewhurst said they were successful in applying for Arts Council money, which would allow the organisation "to stay afloat until October".
They said the emergency funding had given the theatre a chance of making it through the "devastating crisis", but that further cost-cutting was needed to survive.
"With no reopening date yet set, the uncertainty of how we might raise enough income until that point and the ending of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in October [has meant] we have had no other choice but to make the heartbreaking decision to enter redundancy consultations with our wonderful team of permanent staff.
"We expect we will need to reduce our staffing costs by as much as 70% and are undergoing a detailed consultation process to see how we might achieve this while retaining as many of our skilled, passionate and dedicated staff as possible," they said.
The theatre has not confirmed the number of roles that could be affected, but said: "While audiences are the lifeblood of Tobacco Factory Theatres, our staff are its beating heart and most valuable asset. We thank them for their skills, passion and wisdom which have made the theatre a place to be proud of, and for their patience, understanding and courage during these hardest of times."