- Title: UK theatre welcomes boost for the arts, gov't eyes socially distant performances
- Date: 6th July 2020
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 6, 2020) (REUTERS) OLD VIC THEATRE AUDITORIUM VARIOUS OF SEATS IN AUDITORIUM (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, OLD VIC, MATTHEW WARCHUS, SAYING: "Well this is extremely welcome news, as you can imagine. I think this is going to prevent the complete collapse of the industry. It's going to bridge us across to the point at which we can operate again with audiences and a full program of work, we don't yet know when that is and of course the detail of who receives what from this pool of money is going to be very, very important. But it's certainly a lifesaving event that's happened." EXTERIOR OF THE OLD VIC THEATRE SIGN READING (English): "WE'LL BE BACK" ENTRANCE TO BACKSTAGE AT THE OLD VIC SIGN ON BACKSTAGE DOOR ABOUT SOCIAL DISTANCING (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, OLD VIC, MATTHEW WARCHUS, SAYING: "1.5 billion is an enormous amount of money, and it's exactly the right thing for the government to be doing. There's no point messing around with small amounts, this is a significant amount of money and it's what the sector needs right now. We're hugely grateful, because we don't know the period of time that that money will have to cover, there's no way of knowing, a. who's going to get it, in what kind of amounts and whether it will run out at some point. But for the time being, it's enormously, it's enormously welcome, and I think the main thing is that it's going to... We've got to make sure that the money goes to the buildings, which will be the employers, of course and the companies and the institutions. We've got to get some money out to freelancers as well. 70 percent of the sector is freelancers, these are the the directors, the designers, the actors of course, the choreographers and so on, the fight directors, and these people are broke. They've got no income, so we've got to use, we've got to find channels and ways and means to get money to them as well." VARIOUS OF EXTERIORS OF THE NATIONAL THEATRE VARIOUS OF TAPE WRAPPED AROUND PILLARS AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE READING (English): "MISSING LIVE THEATRE" EXTERIOR OF ODEON CINEMA BANNER AT ODEON CINEMA READING (English): "WE'LL BE BACK SOON" (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, OLD VIC, MATTHEW WARCHUS, SAYING: "Well, the thing is, you see, we don't know when we are opening, we don't know whether it's soon or later. We still don't have an indication of the date that which we can reopen and the issue that we have in the performing arts is that social distancing just doesn't work for us and the reason for that is we've got a thousand seats here. If we social distance the audience, we can probably get about three or four hundred people in under those conditions, and we need to sell 700 tickets per performance to break even. So there's a lot of people in the same situation, it's just not economically viable to open with social distancing in place. Safe - yes, but not economically viable, so it's not something we can entertain." PADLOCK ON CURZON CINEMA DOORS POSTERS ON EXTERIOR OF CURZON CINEMA SIGN READING (English): "CURZON - TO BE CONTINUED" EXTERIOR OF PALACE THEATRE EXTERIOR OF SONDHEIM THEATRE (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, OLD VIC, MATTHEW WARCHUS, SAYING: "Theatre is interesting; it's used to operating with insecurity. So it's a kind of paradox, because on the one hand it contributes billions to the economy every year because there are, it generates money and when there are hits, it generates a lot of money and it's all of the ancillary income as well it comes from local communities, from the, from the restaurants, from the hotels - it's a major industry, and yet it also operates on a cliff edge the whole time at the point of losing everything and hanging by its fingertips. So in a sense, what this money allows for is a return to a kind of precarious day to day existence that theatres know and have always known and so it doesn't provide security, that's for sure." VARIOUS OF EXTERIORS OF PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA PEOPLE WALKING PAST THE HAROLD PINTER THEATRE SEALED OFF WITH TAPE ODEON CINEMA SIGN, TAPE SEALING OFF BUILDING (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, OLD VIC, MATTHEW WARCHUS, SAYING: "I do think theatres in general have learned quite a lot during this period of lockdown and still learning a lot, some things that can be exploited later on, you know, in the months ahead. We are all much better at digital work now, we've got skills, we've got an understanding of how those things can work. So there's definitely... At the Old Vic, we're doing some of our education work and community work it is going out digitally while through lockdown, so... And that never happened before. So we have learned a lot of new skills which would be useful to us. But there's no replacing live theatre and for that, we need a full audience."
- Embargoed: 20th July 2020 16:26
- Keywords: Matthew Warchus Old Vic Oliver Dowden The Globe theatre funding theatre
- Location: LONDON AND GOOLE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: LONDON AND GOOLE, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Theater
- Reuters ID: LVA001CLO9I8D
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Theatres in the UK on Monday (July 6) welcomed news that the government would invest Â£1.57 billion in the arts as ministers said they hoped to allow outdoor and socially distanced performances at cultural venues, in a bid to help a high-profile sector hit hard by the coronavirus.
Spanning theatres in London's West End, opera houses and ballet companies putting on big-budget performances to provincial venues up and down the country, the industry is a prominent British export and popular among tourists and locals alike.
But it has been left without a live audience since lockdown measures were imposed in March while other sectors begin to reopen.
The UK's Culture Minister, Oliver Dowden, said on Monday that he was hoping to permit outdoor performances and socially distanced performances soon.
The artistic director at the Old Vic Theatre in London, Matthew Warchus, said he was "hugely grateful" for the investment, but added that many institutions would not be able to break even with socially distanced audiences.
(Production: Helena Williams, Ben Makori, Louisa Naks)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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