Pitlochry Festival Theatre has been forced to put nearly half of its staff at risk of redundancy as a result of the impacts of the pandemic, it has confirmed.
The theatre said recent announcements from government concerning the phasing out of the furlough scheme have meant it is now facing having to cut jobs in order for the organisation to survive beyond this year.
"Due to Mr Sunak’s latest announcements around the Job Retention Scheme, known as furlough, we’ve had to place a significant number of roles at risk of redundancy at PFT.
"We know that if we don’t take action now we will run out of cash in November. We are retaining as many people as possible to ensure we are able to welcome the public to our buildings when we are able to do so," a statement said.
The theatre employs 98 staff, with a mix of workers on hourly contracts and full and part-time employees. As of this week, 42 of those staff members are at risk of redundancy.
The theatre said it had saved a number of "key roles" that would enable it to continue engaging with the public during lockdown and beyond, and said it recognised its responsibility "to be here for people and provide art and creative activities during this difficult time".
Many have warned that the closure of the furlough scheme in October will lead to mass redundancies across the theatre industry, with the majority of venues expecting to be closed until autumn or beyond.
Speaking on Highland FM, artistic director Elizabeth Newman said: "It’s devastating. The theatre is the largest employer in Highland Perthshire and we want to be that for the next number of decades. It has been devastating because so many people rely on the theatre for income but also as a place to go."
Newman said the redundancy plan would enable PFT to "shrink" the organisation, which is the only way it will reopen at all after the pandemic, with a view to growing its staff again in future. Until then, it will try to maintain the roles that will be critical in enabling business to resume when safe to do so.
She added that the theatre is working with other organisations locally in order to offer resources and help finding alternative work to staff made redundant.