Almost 50% of permanent staff at the Birmingham Hippodrome are facing redundancy as the venue attempts to survive the pandemic, it has emerged.
The news comes as the scale of the damage caused by theatres going dark in March becomes clearer, with widespread warnings of permanent closures and redundancies.
Last week, BECTU warned three quarters of theatre employers may be forced to make furloughed staff redundant because of planned changes to the job retention scheme announced in May.
Planned redundancies at Birmingham Hippodrome follow news that Leicester Haymarket Theatre is closing because of the pandemic.
Birmingham Hippodrome, which is closed until November at the earliest, has said 62 of its 130 full-time employees are facing redundancy from the end of August, as a result of Covid-19 and its impact on the venue’s operation.
“It’s heartbreaking for Birmingham and for the community and we are just one of dozens of theatres that are going to be doing this”, chief executive Fiona Allan told Birmingham Live, adding: “This catastrophe is going to catapult us into a different world for the next few years.”
She said the theatre had no income and a £5 million annual salary bill, resulting in a need to cut overheads.
According to Birmingham Live, permanent jobs in catering, box office, front of house, stage and reception are at risk of redundancy.
It is understood other employees are being offered the chance to be retained until March if they accept one day’s pay per week, which would give them the freedom to accept work elsewhere.
BECTU is supporting affected staff.
Mick Corfield, negotiating officer for BECTU in the Midlands, said: "These redundancies at the region’s biggest theatre illustrate what a devastating time it is around the country for the industry.
He added: "The fear is that if the Midlands’ biggest theatre has to do this, there will be a domino effect.”