Theatre doors may be closed but we and other arts organisations are working hard to show the positive impact the arts has on the economy and local communities.

UK Theatre is a global success story, financially contributing billions to the economy, enhancing the UK’s reputation around the world and attracting tourists. 

Before Covid-19 the annual UK theatre audience was over 34m – more than go to all football league games in the whole of the UK each year. In 2018/19 the RSC alone sold 412,913 tickets for our Stratford productions and 1,201 076 tickets for productions around the UK. But by the end of 2020, without help, 70% of all theatres will run out of money and close.

Working together, the UK theatre industry has come up with detailed proposals for how the government can invest in theatre now and benefit from our success in the future. This is a brief overview of these proposals.

  • Sustain our workforce

  • Support theatre recovery

  • Safeguard the industry for the future

Before the announcement of the government support package was made, we submitted evidence to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), alongside many other organisations.
Read the full RSC evidence to the DCMS Select Committee Enquiry (PDF)


man standing wearing a grey suit and reading a newspaper, on stage
A Museum in Baghdad, 2019
Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC Browse and license our images

Top 5 blog reads for July

Each month we highlight five blogs or reports or pieces of writing that explore the response of the arts sector to Covid 19 and what it might mean for our future. Here is our current selection:

  1. James Graham writes on British theatre’s class problem. He suggests that to return the theatre to health, we need more diversity among artists and audiences, and cheaper tickets. British theatre has a class problem, and coronavirus could make it worse
  2. The future of participatory arts: an open letter by some of the leading voices in the field, addressed to the DCMS Secretary of State and Arts Council England. The letter sets out the value of participatory art, and the problems faced by those who make it, and proposes some immediate solutions. The importance of participatory arts: an open letter
  3. Structural and institutional racism: a collective of UK arts workers including Jade Montserrat, Cecilia Wee and Michelle Williams Gamaker explains how the glass ceiling keeps them on the margins – and why public statements promising reviews, reports and diversity panels cut no ice. “We need collectivity against structural and institutional racism in the cultural sector”
  4. How will the industry reshape its future? The Stage commissioned a series of articles from contributors responding to this question. Contributors include Justin Audibert, Artistic Director of Unicorn Theatre on the future of work for young people, Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, founder and artistic director of Artistic Directors of the Future, about rethinking traditional leadership structures and  RSC Director of Education Jacqui O’Hanlon on the future of arts education. Back Soon Back Better
  5. Taking action in times of outrage and crisis - Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) has developed and shared a framework for how organizations can take action, declaring: ‘Now is a moment for organizations to act - even if you may not feel completely prepared to do so.’ Taking action or not in moments of national outrage

Raising the profile through the media

Below is a selection of pieces from different media, drawing attention to the plight of theatres and the arts industry in the pandemic. 

The State of UK Theatre 

Discussion on BBC Front Row with RSC Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon, Actors’ Touring Company Artistic Director Matthew Xia, and Indhu Rubasingham, Artistic Director of London's Kiln Theatre.
Listen on BBC Sounds 

The New York Times explores the plight of the arts in the UK, describes what the industry is doing to avert the crisis, and how it compares to elsewhere in Europe. 
Read at the New York Times

Free thinking: The Future of Theatre Debate

Wide-ranging discussion about how the theatre industry can survive and how might it need to creatively adapt, with contributions from many theatre makers, including actor Bertie Carvel (former Miss Trunchbull). Positive discussion about how the sector could change for the better. 
Listen on BBC Sounds

Sam Mendes: how we can save our theatres

Writing a long article in the Financial Times, the director outlines a rescue package for theatre during the coronavirus crisis and calls on Netflix and Amazon to share 'Covid-19 windfall' with theatre.
Read a summary of the article on the Guardian 

'Theatre will recover'

In this Opinion piece, our Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman talks about the struggle for the theatre industry to survive, and argues that it should use the time to prepare for recovery and build a better future. 
Read at The Stage

Theatre stands on the brink of ruin

Powerful article by Sonia Friedman arguing that, without an urgent government rescue package, more than 1,000 theatres around the country will be insolvent and might shut down for good. 
Read on the Telegraph

National Theatre and RSC bosses add to calls for government support

RSC Chief Executive Catherine Mallyon and Lisa Burger at the National Theatre call for urgent government support, warning that without it the entire sector is at risk.
Read at The Stage



The group has written an 'Open Letter to the Culture Secretary from Black, Asian & Ethnically Diverse Theatre Artistic Directors and Cultural Leaders on the Importance of Protecting Representation in the Sector', published on the Young Vic website.

The letter explains that the Covid-19 crisis threatens all aspects of the theatrical ecology, but calls on the government and the sector to ensure the progress we have collectively made does not fall by the way-side. It asks that any task-force or group gathering to speak about the future of the industry consults with Black, Asian and ethnically diverse leaders.

Read the open letter