Oxford Playhouse has announced a series of cost-reduction measures as it battles to secure its future, including redundancy consultations.
Up to 20% of the theatre’s 50-strong contracted workforce could be affected by the job losses, with consultations beginning between the venue, staff and unions.
It will also suspend all operations throughout August, including closing its ticket office, to reduce costs and preserve funds.
The playhouse is the latest theatre to announce that staff cuts will be on the horizon, following the likes of Birmingham Hippodrome, Wales Millennium Centre, Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre and Pitlochry Festival Theatre, as well as West End operators including Nimax and Delfont Mackintosh.
The planned measures are a direct response to the pandemic and the theatre’s enforced closure, and in anticipation of a longer period of reduced income due to social distancing and fewer shows being produced once theatres are allowed to reopen.
Oxford Playhouse director and chief executive Louise Chantal said: “The decisions I and the board of the theatre have taken are necessary to safeguard the future of Oxford Playhouse and enable the charity to survive an extended period of closure and significantly reduced income. Oxford Playhouse plays a crucial role within the cultural life of our city, the region and beyond. We are determined to ensure it continues to entertain and engage our communities.”
She also paid tribute to the theatre’s staff and their dedication and loyalty “during a hugely challenging, difficult and uncertain time”.
About 80% of its permanent staff have been furloughed, and Oxford Playhouse said it would continue using the scheme until it ends in October while a core team works towards its reopening and maintains participation work.
It stressed that no final decisions would be made on any redundancies until after the consultation process has been completed.
The theatre said it was applying for emergency funding from Arts Council England and has launched a fundraising campaign, which has raised £100,000 so far. It is also exploring hiring out its spaces commercially to generate additional income.
All performances are suspended until August 3. However, the theatre said it expected to announce a further period of closure, covering August and September, soon.