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.
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)
Top 5 blog reads for September
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:
- 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
- Cultural Learning Alliance round up of key issues facing arts education this new academic year, including the attainment gap, £1 billion of catch-up support and class and jobs in the creative industries. Policy and Practice round-up September 2020
- "Does our industry have the will to genuinely share power with those who have, for so very long, been marginalised and silenced?" David Olusoga’s full Edinburgh Television Festival speech, in which he describes the level of change required in the industry to achieve real equality
"An investment in culture is an investment in our high streets" Two new Arts Council England reports show the benefits of culture on the high street. With 75% of cultural buildings within a five-minute walk of a high street, culture can have a major role in revitalising these areas. Culture on our High Streets
A Freelance Supporters Menu has been developed by the Freelance Task Force, encouraging arts organisations to reflect on how freelancers can be better supported, covering access, anti-racist practices, artist development, representation, communication and management.
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
Cultural Life Is Back in Europe. In the UK, They Talk of Collapse
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
BLACK, ASIAN & ETHNICALLY DIVERSE ARTISTIC DIRECTORS speak out
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