The government needs to invest £300 million into the theatre industry for every three months venues are closed in order to ensure the sector’s survival post Covid-19, according to a new recovery plan from sector leaders.
Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken hosted a virtual summit with leaders of the West End creative, leisure and hospitality industries, including chief executive of the Society of London Theatre Julian Bird and Royal Opera House chief executive Alex Beard.
Representatives from the Royal Albert Hall, the Heart of London Business Alliance and UKHospitality also attended the summit, which resulted in a recovery plan for the West End.
One of the key points from a report on the plan was that the government will need to invest a figure of around £300 million per three months that venues are closed to save the theatre sector across the UK.
The report also describes social distancing as "one of the big obstacles" facing the theatre and hospitality industry, warning that keeping social distancing at two metres or even at the World Health Organisation guideline of 1.5 metres would leave "every auditorium unable to open economically".
Key recommendations to the government to assist a recovery plan:
• Allow venues to implement other methods of keeping people safe instead of social distancing - including strict cleaning regimes, sanitising and heat testing upon entry
• To ensure social distancing does not become the "new norm" but is instead used as a temporary measure while additional safety measures are introduced
• To consider one method of investing in the industry through arts bonds - which will see theatres pay back a share of profits once they are up and running or provide in-kind community engagement programmes
• To announce a timetable to bring big events back in time for pantomimes at Christmas
Representatives from the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Opera House said neither venue would be able to reopen with social distancing in place.
The Royal Albert Hall said it is only able to survive until April next year under current circumstances before it is forced to fold, while the Royal Opera House said it will not last beyond the Autumn with current reserves.
Last week, the Society of London Theatre presented further evidence to the government, which called on it to extend tax breaks for the sector in order to bring about its recovery.