Industry bodies are calling for an overhaul of the Theatre Tax Relief scheme to aid the recovery of the sector.
The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre are urging the government to increase the rate of relief to 50% of qualifying expenditure, from 25% for touring shows and 20% for other productions.
In addition, they are asking for content produced as digital offerings to qualify for the relief.
The proposals are made in a new submission to the government, “outlining practical solutions to support the theatre sector”, following warnings of closures and job losses.
They call for:
The submission proposes increasing the tax relief to 50% for a period of three years to include any productions that have commenced their production phase and have been affected by Covid-19. It also recommends that expenditure associated with resuming performances should qualify for tax relief.
“This would mitigate losses already sustained by the sector such that productions that were affected by Covid-19 are more likely to resume once theatres reopen. It would also provide producers and investors with greater confidence to ensure that new and larger-scale productions are green-lit while the sector rebuilds its audience, ensuring greater employment,” they said.
Allowing the relief to be paid on productions created solely for digital distribution – which is currently prohibited – “would enable some organisations to contemplate shows for online audiences while auditoria are closed”, they argued.
The submission also urges support for “the thousands of small companies that supply and depend on theatre”, from set and costume makers to workshops to casting directors as well as technological suppliers.
It asks for help to create Covid-secure venues, including investment in health and safety precautions such as PPE, toilet facility changes and increased costs of working.
A new Cultural Investment Participation Scheme would be needed to help charities that are unable to take out loans, the proposals suggest.
“This alternative scheme would allow both charitable and commercial organisations to re-establish and enable the government to invest and be part of the sector’s future success,” SOLT and UK Theatre said.
Last week, leaders from the sector warned of the devastating consequences Covid-19 is having on the industry, with 70% of organisations expected to have run out of money by the end of the year.