Director Mike Leigh and playwright Caryl Churchill have called on the National Theatre to protect its front-of-house staff from job cuts, ahead of a major protest planned against the losses this weekend.
Hundreds of National Theatre and Southbank Centre staff are expected to protest outside the London venues this weekend, against the cuts to jobs.
The National Theatre recently announced it was laying off its entire 400-strong casual workforce, with the Southbank Centre also announcing up to 400 roles will go. Jobs are being cut across departments.
The protest is being supported by Vanessa Redgrave, who will speak at the event, as well as Leigh and Churchill.
Churchill said: “If the NT need to economise by making some staff redundant it would be fair to spread the burden across all departments rather than just the front of house. They could certainly make greater savings with fewer redundancies if they were among the better paid.”
Leigh added: “To my friends, the front-of-house team at the National Theatre: all strength to your elbow in your very legitimate fight to retain your important jobs. And to my friends, the National Theatre management: we all sympathise with your predicament at this difficult time, but surely you really must do all you can to reverse your decision to sack your devoted front-of-house team.”
Organisers of the protest described the two venues as “crown jewels” arts organisations, and said they should protect the jobs of their lowest paid insecure workers by “reducing the excessive salaries at executive level”.
A Southbank spokeswoman said the executive team had already taken cuts to salaries and would continue to do so once the furlough scheme ends.
The protest begins outside the Southbank Centre at 10.30am, with Redgrave expected to speak at 12.45pm outside the NT.