Old Vic artistic director Matthew Warchus has revealed plans to reopen the venue in November, but has warned that “a critical and major” fundraising campaign will be needed to keep the theatre running as it does.
He said the campaign would be vital if the theatre is to “continue operating with the creative daring and vibrant social mission that we have determinedly aimed for”.
His plans for the theatre have been unveiled in a statement, in which he reveals two thirds of the Old Vic’s staff have been furloughed, with the remainder taking a 20% cut to their pay for the next six months.
“Those still working are doing an outstanding job of damage-limitation and forward planning, while our weekly Zoom socials are keeping our collective spirits up. We are thinking hard about how best to connect with our audiences while our doors are closed,” he said, adding: “We’re not designed to be separated, are we? And theatre is the very definition of connectedness.”
Warchus explained that the summer run of musical Local Hero has been postponed, and that new dates for Amy Herzog’s 4,000 Miles – which he said had been fully rehearsed before lockdown – were currently being planned. 4,000 Miles had been due to run this month.
“At this point, nobody knows what the process of reopening theatres is going to look like; how long there is still to wait before the process starts, and how long after that before everything feels how it always used to feel.
“But it’s clear what responsibly we have to do is to make plans with a combination of as much positivity and as much pragmatism as we can muster,” he said, announcing that Jack Thorne’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol will return for a fourth year for the festive season.
“We think it’s not unreasonable to expect that theatres will have reopened by the time this production is scheduled to perform in November, and so would encourage you to share in our optimism and book now for what will no doubt be a perfect antidote to this very tough phase we are all currently navigating. If it becomes impossible to present the production you will be able to do one of three things: donate the funds, roll them over to a future production (this or another) by way of an account credit, or seek a refund,” he said.
However, he warned there would come a time coming when the Old Vic “will need to launch a critical and major fundraising campaign if we are to continue operating with the creative daring and vibrant social mission that we have determinedly aimed for”.
“And clearly, the difficult process of rebuilding will be one that very many businesses and charities will need to undertake. That is for later, when the immediate health crisis has subsided and we have all made it to the other side.
“But for now, if you can afford it, simply buying into our future through purchasing a ticket for A Christmas Carol will play a significant part in supporting our return. We are a charity which operates with no government funding as a safety net and rely instead entirely on ticket sales and donations,” he said.
When the Old Vic closed its doors, it was among the first to announce digital offerings, giving ticket holders to Endgame the chance to watch the show online.