Top UK Theatre producers are amongst those to threaten legal action against the UK government, amid continuing delays publishing data from trials of large scale events across the country.
Sonia Friedman, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Cameron Mackintosh are just three of the Theatre Industry’s biggest hitters to add their voices to those of the Live Music Events Industry (LIVE) asking for results to be published. They are also calling for the UK government to back a state-led insurance scheme to cover any further cancellation of events due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to March 2021, events such as West End theatre productions and Glastonbury would pay premiums to insurers to cover lost revenue for any range of eventualities, from flood to power outages. Famously, the Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, had taken out pandemic insurance and were covered for the losses incurred in 2020, but such insurance is no longer available.
Producers are also calling for changes to UK quarantine rules, including the introduction of a system of daily testing (suggested by Michael Gove), allowing theatres to function irrespective of any future spikes in Covid-19 cases.
In a statement to the press, Sonia Friedman said:
“The Government continues to display a wilful lack of understanding of the extraordinary value of the theatre industry, and the way in which we operate. We can only fully reopen once. We need absolute clarity on when and how we can fully reopen – to bring a show back to full production takes months in planning to rehearse and to build a box office advance.”Sonia Friedman, Producer
Friedman’s words come just days after Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber released a statement regarding his forthcoming production of Cinderella. The show, a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale, has been postponed several times, and has now been forced to open with social distancing in place, meaning that the show will run at a loss and inevitably take far longer to recoup its original investment.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh added his voice to those with concerns over the future of West End Theatre. In his own statement to the press, he added:
Having contributed huge amounts of money to the exchequer over the last few decades, the theatre desperately needs to be supported in its hour of need or the government will be responsible for the disintegration of one of this country’s most priceless and irreplaceable assets after centuries of being the envy of the world.”Sir Cameron Mackintosh, UK Theatre Producer
Theatres are beginning to reopen, although many major West End shows have delayed until Autumn 2021. We hope and pray that this time, re-openings will be permanent.