More than 70% of venues will run out of money by the end of this year, the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre has warned, as the organisations stressed the need to find an "alternative model to social distancing".
The sector bodies have welcomed the creation of the government’s taskforce for cultural renewal, which includes English National Ballet’s Tamara Rojo and Arts Council England chair Nicholas Serota.
SOLT and UK Theatre will contribute to an associated working group covering entertainment and events, alongside One Dance UK, ACE and the Association of British Orchestras, which will look specifically at how to reopen the sector safely.
SOLT chief executive Julian Bird said the formation of the government’s taskforce was "critical" to help the sector address the urgent challenges of Covid-19.
He said: "We have been liaising closely with our members and then with DCMS to ensure the complex needs of theatre are understood. Theatre currently has no income and more than 70% of our venues will run out of cash by the end of the year if we are not able to find an alternative model to social distancing."
SOLT and UK Theatre already have three of their own working groups formed, they said, which focus on rehearsals and pre-production, operating venues safely and touring.
Members include freelancers and organisations from across theatre and the performing arts, and are generating "practical and workable solutions" that will feed into the government’s new group.
The cultural renewal taskforce will be chaired by culture secretary Oliver Dowden and also comprises Ambassador Theatre Group chief executive Mark Cornell and former BBC chair and theatre producer Michael Grade.