‘The Fragile’ Theatre Industry Needs Government Help, Says The Theatre Head
In a statement, Dame Rosemary Squire urged the government to “take immediate action” since the Omicron variant of Coronavirus has affected the productions around the country.
Dame Rosemary, chairman of Trafalgar Entertainment along with Sir Howard Panter, says that the “infectious” new strain of Covid-19 has “caused severe damage to the theater industry.”
In the UK, Trafalgar Entertainment is the second largest theatre company, owning the Trafalgar Theater in the West End, the Olympia Theatre in West London, and HQ Entertainment, a holding company with a portfolio of 14 regional venues.
Dame Rosemary stated: “While we take every precaution to protect our staff, customers, and performers in our theatres, Covid Omicron has caused colossal damage and irreparable harm to the theatre industry.
“During the busiest time of year, performances are now being canceled, and there are Covid outbreaks among cast members and production staff.
“Consumer confidence is plummeting because of this, as well as confusing and contradictory messages from government.
“Government must provide financial support and compensation to our world-eminent theatre, entertainment, and hospitality industries. We are interdependent, but this cannot be accomplished alone.”
Recently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of new controls to stop the spread of Omicron, stating that data is monitored “hour by hour” amid foresees the NHS could be overburdened.
Any new measures must also be considered from an economic standpoint – especially those sectors already suffering from the pandemic.
According to him: “We need to be more explicit about some things before moving forward.
“Although we need to act cautiously, we also need to protect the hospitality industry, theaters, and other domains of our incredible entertainment industry that have been hurt.”
His comments followed a string of canceled shows, with The Lion King in the West End being shut down until at least December 28 because of the “consistent Covid absences” among cast and staff.
Musicals based in London include The Book Of Mormon, Come From Away, Cabaret At The Kit Kat Club, and the Dear Evan Hansen, have announced that there will be no performance until late December.
According to Dame Rosemary, lifeline schemes that were “switched off only recently” by the GOVT may “easily be reinstated.”
Among her proposals are a return to 5% VAT on ticket sales and business rates relief for cultural buildings, as well as a broader range of eligibility requirements to the Culture Recovery Fund to make it easier for organizations that previously received funding to apply again.
In July 2020, the Culture Recovery Fund was launched to protect Britain’s cultural, arts, and heritage institutions.
Dame Rosemary continued: “Covid, and its countless variants, will probably be around for a long time, so we will have to learn to live with them.
We must adapt, innovate, and reassure as we look toward 2022 and beyond.”
Another lockdown “would be disastrous without adequate financial support.” She said:
She further added: The economy, livelihoods, and mental health of tens of thousands of people rely on it.
“So it would have a major economic impact. We cannot be left in such a position. We need to protect the arts in times like these – they are a refuge and a joy.”
The director of Hamilton, Les Miserables, and Miss Saigon told BBC NEWS that “the Government should step in and assist the commercial theatre because, for the most part, it has not received any assistance and help from the government.”
So the spokesperson for the Department for Cultural, Media, Digital, and Sport: “We have awarded £1.5 billion in loans and grants from our unprecedented $2 billion Culture Recovery Fund.
“The £300 Million The Culture Recovery Fund is still accepting applications for its third round, supporting the arts, heritage, and creative industries.