- Title: Lloyd Webber, impresarios take legal action to get UK COVID pilot data
- Date: 24th June 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - MAY 20, 2021) (REUTERS) "LES MISERABLES - THE STAGED CONCERT" ON STAGE FOR CURTAIN CALL WITH ACTOR ADDRESSING AUDIENCE FROM STAGE SAYING (English): "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the West End!" / AUDIENCE AND CAST CHEERING AND CLAPPING AUDIENCE APPLAUDING AND CHEERING BRITISH THEATRICAL PRODUCER, CAMERON MACKINTOSH, OUTSIDE SONDHEIM THEATRE AHEAD OF THE SHOW AND ENTERING THEATRE NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (FILE - MARCH 5, 2018) (REUTERS) BRITISH MUSICAL COMPOSER, ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER SPEAKING DURING AN INTERVIEW
- Embargoed: 8th July 2021 16:23
- Keywords: Andrew Lloyd Webber COVID-19 Cameron Mackintosh ERP Events Research Programme Sonia Friedman Stuart Galbraith coronavirus entertainment industry legal action against UK government live music events theatres
- Location: VARIOUS LOCATIONS
- City: VARIOUS LOCATIONS
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Europe,Theatre
- Reuters ID: LVA002EIRH5C7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Andrew Lloyd Webber and other impresarios said on Thursday (June 24) they had started legal action to press Britain's government to publish research into the safety of holding indoor events during the pandemic.
Concert managers and theatre producers, also including Cameron Mackintosh and Sonia Friedman, said they needed the information so their industry, already crippled by months of COVID-19 curbs, could plan ahead for the summer season.
British authorities have conducted a pilot scheme in recent months, testing audiences at live events from soccer matches to the Brit Awards, to see if they can be held without social distancing.
Theatre producers said in a joint statement the government had "refused to publish the results from the first phase of the Events Research Programme, despite saying that it would do so on numerous occasions".
Asked about the producers' announcement, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We understand a delay to full reopening is challenging for live events but we are helping our creative industries and sporting bodies through it. We have made a record Â£2 billion of support available for culture and Â£600m for sports, on top of billions more through other government schemes."
"Our ongoing, groundbreaking Events Research Programme is gathering important evidence to help get all live events, including theatre shows, festivals and gigs, fully back up and running once it is safe to do so. We will publish the results of the programme before the move to Step 4, as we have always promised to. This aligns with the publication commitments for the other Roadmap reviews."
Music promoter and co-founder of LIVE, the representative body for the live music industry, Stuart Galbraith told Reuters on Thursday that the legal action was a "last resort", after the data had "frustratingly" not been published and other environments were "open with impunity" while the entertainment sector remained closed.
"With regards to the comparison of music and theatre and sport, the picture is very, very graphic. Wimbledon is going ahead with full capacity. 15,000 attendances in Centre Court. Silverstone is being attended by 140,000 people. The Euros (football), this week, have announced that the semi-finals and the finals will have up to 65,000 people. But the only sector that has actually participated with research that actually shows that our events are safe still remains closed," said Galbraith.
The pandemic initially forced all British theatres and concert halls to close their doors. Some briefly re-opened in December and, under Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown, smaller productions resumed in May though at 50% capacity and with social distancing measures.
Bigger musicals had been waiting for the full lifting of restrictions, now pushed back from June 21 to July 19 because of the spread of the more infection Delta variant.
The joint statement from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, the LIVE music industry body and others also called for a government-backed insurance scheme to cover any cancellations of live shows over the summer and beyond.
Last week, Lloyd Webber said he would not take part in the pilot scheme but would comply with social distancing rules when his new musical "Cinderella" begins previews on Friday.
"Today, with a range of voices from across the theatre and live entertainment industries, we are forced to take it further. We simply must now see the data that is being used to strangle our industry so unfairly," he said.
(Production: Lisa Giles-Keddie, Marie-Louise Gumuchian)
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