A group of Norfolk and Suffolk-based performance venues have predicted a collective loss of more than £10 million due to Covid-19 by the end of September.
The 19 venues, which include New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, Norwich Theatre Royal and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, are calling on the government to provide specific financial support for the sector.
Statistics on the financial impact of Covid-19 on the venues have been gathered in a survey by the New Anglia Culture Board. Collectively, the 19 venues generated £43.5m in income in the 2018/19 financial year and sustained over 500 full-time jobs.
Since the closure of theatres in March 1,605 performances have been cancelled and 700 have been re-scheduled. As a result, the venues project a total collective loss of income to the end of September 2020 of more than £15 million.
The venues estimate that by then they will collectively have received £4.8 million from existing government initiatives and their own fundraising efforts, leaving a shortfall of more than £10 million.
According to the research, if the venues are not able to stage their Christmas seasons, 15% will have no choice but to close permanently by January 1, 2021.
Other venues that took part in the survey included Dance East in Ipswich, Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre, Norwich Arts Centre, and St George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth.
On behalf of the venues, Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive Stephen Crocker said: “Our region’s venues are at the heart of life across Norfolk and Suffolk and make these counties the incredible places that they are, but the risk to their future is stark.
“What we do goes way beyond the act of staging performances or delivering activities. It is about bringing people together to share in an experience.
“In a post-coronavirus world when social distancing is a thing of the past, I cannot imagine something more important than this. It is clear we need further interventions and this comes at a cost, but the value of the role we have to play as we recover is inestimable.”
New Anglia Culture Board chair Helen Wilson described a strong cultural sector coming out of this crisis as “critical to our region’s recovery and regrowth as a key contributor to the visitor economy sector”, which she said was the second-largest employment sector in the region.