The NHS is at the centre of the crisis we face in the UK and last week the nation applauded its workers.
Here is an idea: how about all the theatres in the UK announce that the first performance in each theatre after Covid-19 will be a free show for those brave people who had fought in such difficult conditions?
Give free tickets to the opening shows to any NHS staff members (they will all go through hell in the next few weeks) and let everyone in the profession applaud them at the curtain call for a job well done. Imagine if all the stars shook their hands as they left the theatre and thanked them? The power of that would be phenomenal for the nation.
The whole industry could help by giving one day of their time for that single performance. All those who are not currently working – actors, dancers, singers, directors and technicians – would all want to help. It just needs leadership to make it happen. This would be a huge boost for hard-pressed nurses and doctors, seeing that the theatre world is with them, as they face the biggest challenge in a lifetime.
The arts has just been given £160 million at this difficult time. It will help justify this and the funding that state-subsidised theatres have received. It will be a great way to focus everyone’s minds on the day that the theatres will reopen. It could be a nationwide event – a huge celebration of the medical profession.
CEO Europe, Tait
I applaud The Stage’s coverage of the efforts by individual theatres and high-profile institutions to respond to the health crisis with online digital efforts. The limitation of these efforts is that they are fragmentary, mounted by disparate groups that have limited marketing reach, and a limited existing audience.
EU Arts Live is offering the possibility of live broadcasting on our broadcast platform to any performing arts company or theatre or institution that would like to use it, at a nominal cost for hooking up the transmission, with the possibility of raising revenue through their own advertising and through viewer donations on the broadcast page itself.
Arts Live is an EU-sponsored project to promote live online broadcasting of the performing arts via a common platform, co-financed by the Creative Europe programme. Our special interest is in using interactive broadcast technology to recreate the fundamental interactivity of the performance hall experience, where each member of the audience shapes their experience by choosing who or what to look at, when, and why. Our broadcast technology relies on 360VR and our unique, viewer-controlled multi-camera/multi-screen system.
Having largely accomplished our project goals, we are happy to offer the use of the platform to any company or group of companies to recapture audiences that cannot come to theatres now. They will be able to do so in ordinary digital HD or in interactive formats such as 360 VR. The important thing in this crisis is to get as much live broadcasting of the performing arts to existing audiences, and to new audiences, while so many are housebound. To us, this moment presents a magnificent opportunity – a way to get many more companies off the fence and into the field of broadcasting.
We believe that the performing arts can and will create a broadcast audience that will generate sizeable additional revenues for the entire performing arts community the way the broadcast audience for sports has done. The question is: how will we do this? Will it all be dominated by the few high-prestige institutions such as the UK’s National Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, which have established national audiences and their own way of doing things?
Our focus, instead, is everybody else, the broad base of the pyramid of performing arts activity. We believe we can work together, consolidating our separate audiences into a larger common audience, the way sports leagues built national and international audiences on the basis of the local audiences of teams in various towns all over their respective countries. There is no reason why we cannot do likewise with theatres or performing arts companies all over the country, and then across national borders.
The technology is there. All that’s holding us back is the means to do this in a way the performing arts community can manage and control on its own, rather than being hostage to the film and television industry’s use of extremely expensive but outdated technology.
Any medium-sized performing arts centre can equip itself with its own digital broadcast technology for a fraction of the costs of traditional TV equipment, and throw wide the doors of all of its performances to global audiences.
Project coordinator, EU Arts Live – firstname.lastname@example.org
The government’s scheme to pay self-employed workers 80% of their average monthly profit is flawed.
It’s no help for people that are forced into working a mixture of both short PAYE contracts and self-employed contracts, dependent on what suits producers financially. Many people will not be eligible for this scheme.
This is a joke. It is on profit, not earnings. If I qualify, which I don’t think I will, I would be expected to pay all my business expenses plus living costs on 80% of my profit – not on what I earn. So it is a lose-lose situation for me.
The reason I am unlikely to qualify is that about 50% of my income (not profit) comes from working as a casual tech at a venue. I have no idea where I stand.
I have no idea what to budget for and in four weeks’ time all my reserves will be gone – with no sign of being back in work for at least another six weeks. The whole financial package is a joke for the arts industry and the unions should not be praising themselves.
Last year I retired as a theatrical agent after 50 years in this amazing business.
I learned so much and represented some wonderful clients, some famous and some not so. I loved most of them and have been often asked to write a book from an agent’s perspective. However, I am probably better known for giving Cameron Mackintosh his first major West End office. What an eye-opener – he taught me so much.
I think I retired at the right time and I worry about the future for other agents and the business itself as well as the wonderfully talented kids graduating from drama schools.
I want to thank all the great people with whom I came into contact, including fellow agents and amazing clients, most of whom I have remained close to.
If I ever decide to write that book, some people might never speak to me again. I’ll think about it.
Email address supplied
“Theatre is really like climbing a very painful mountain. Of course, once you reach the summit, the view is beautiful.” – Actor Isabelle Huppert (Guardian)
“I worked in the NHS for 15 years. So trust me when I say there is nothing in the world of culture that can compare to the stress and pressure those doctors, nurses and managers will be feeling now as they try to save our lives. Anything they need from us – we owe them that much.” – Battersea Arts Centre artistic director Tarek Iskander (Twitter)
“Turns out un-producing shows is just as hard as producing them in the first place.” – Producer Eleanor Lloyd (Twitter)
“I’ve been working hand to mouth and now, when it looked as if I might finally be able to breathe, I don’t know when I’ll get paid again. I just need to find a way to keep my head above water.” – Playwright Stephen Laughton on the closure of his play One Jewish Boy in the West End (Guardian)
“If there is any art form that can take on this challenge, I do not know a more qualified industry. The doors will open again, and I can’t wait to be in a shared space, and to share stories.” – Shakespeare’s Globe artistic director Michelle Terry speaking on World Theatre Day (Twitter)
“I have some savings but lots of actors don’t. People think actors earn way more than they do.” – Actor Layton Williams (Guardian)
“It’s interesting to see everyone gravitate back to traditional media during self-isolation. Quiz depicts an age where we would generally gather as a nation to watch the same thing. Now we want that again.” – Playwright James Graham speaking about his play Quiz (Evening Standard)
“Actors’ pay swings wildly from year to year. This would crush anyone who was on a long West End contract last year with hardly anything this year. This is terrible for creative freelances.” – Actor Madeleine Worrall (Twitter)
“I hope that living through a literal dystopia cures us of our appetite for them, I am so done with reading ‘in a world where…’ plays.” – Playwright Gill Greer (Twitter)
“We invest in our actors, love to see them grow and flourish – now we will not see that this year. It has been like watching your world crumble.” – Director of theatre education company Firehorse Productions Denise Francis (Guardian)
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