Around 30 theatres are considering making staff redundancies as they fight for survival in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, a union has warned.
BECTU, the union representing backstage and front-of-house workers, said it is aware of many organisations needing to cut staff costs in order to weather the effects of the crisis.
It comes as venues prepare for several more months of closure, amid rising concerns over the consequences of a reduced furlough scheme.
Philippa Childs, who is head of BECTU, said the volume of redundancy proposals the union had been made aware of by its members "is hugely indicative of the scale of the crisis the industry is facing", with nearly 30 venues warning of potential staff cuts.
The National Theatre has already said it could be forced to make up to 30% of its workforce redundant if it doesn’t receive additional support from the government, with other theatres considering cuts including the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, as well as the Haymarket in Leicester and Southport Theatre, whose managements have gone into liquidation.
Childs said the crisis means "employers are doing everything they can to weather the storm they are experiencing".
"These organisations contribute significantly to their local and the national economy. The UK faces becoming a diminished global proposition in theatre without additional support from the government. BECTU will continue lobbying government alongside employers, for the funding the industry needs to minimise the impact of this situation on our members," she said.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has now confirmed that employers across the UK must start contributing to the wages of furloughed staff from August, with the scheme ending permanently in October, a move that has already prompted stark warnings from the theatre industry and entertainment unions.
As many as 70% of theatres across the UK could run out of money by the end of the year, it has been claimed. The Creative Industries Federation is warning that ending the job retention scheme before theatres and other arts organisations are operational again will leave them facing a financial "cliff edge".