Nimax is the latest major theatre operator to confirm it has begun the process of making a series of redundancies among its staff.
The West End theatre company, which owns six venues including the Palace and the Apollo, is being forced to begin consultations on redundancies for a third of its total workforce as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This will translate to about 130 roles, made up of Nimax’s performance staff, including ushers and other front-of-house workers, bar staff and technicians employed for specific shows.
The losses will not affect permanent staff such as those working in box office and stage door departments, theatres’ technical teams and theatre management.
Nimax chief executive Nica Burns confirmed the company had triggered the redundancy consultation process and informed the staff affected on June 15. They will remain on the payroll until August 31.
She told The Stage: "All over the country chief executives, artistic directors and senior management teams are being forced to make decisions they really don’t wish to make in order to keep their theatres and businesses going, at a time when we have such uncertainty about when we might be allowed to reopen, and how long it will take to build up audiences again."
Nimax’s theatres shut in March. Burns said she still had no idea when performances will be able to restart but said she hoped it would be this year.
She added: "We would like to reopen our theatres safely as soon as the government allows, get our staff back up and open as soon as we safely can. Our long serving resident staff theatre team and the rest of the Nimax workforce, remain ready and waiting to go. These are very difficult and upsetting times for all of us. I can’t wait to hear the theatre industry cheering when the first shows open."
Meanwhile, the government’s furlough scheme will be phased out between August and October, a move that many across the industry have warned will lead to mass redundancies and potential permanent closures.
BECTU confirmed it is in discussions with Nimax about its proposals.
Head of BECTU Philippa Childs said: “The initial proposals from the company demonstrate an intention to continue to use the furlough scheme despite the requirement to contribute to it from August. This is a positive approach, but will still result in some job losses unless the government steps in and provides the much needed, and called for, financial support for the theatre industry.”
She reiterated that theatre workers “still have no idea when they can go back to work”, and demanded reassurance from government that they would be supported in the mean time.
“Expecting employers to contribute when they have no source of income is unrealistic and the government must recognise this and act now,” Childs added.
Nimax’s decision follows a similar move confirmed last week by Cameron Mackintosh, who began consultations among staff at his two companies – venue operator Delfont Mackintosh and production arm Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.
Redundancies have also been announced at theatres across the UK, including Birmingham Hippodrome, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh and London’s National Theatre.