September 2020

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22 September - Live theatre able to continue with social distancing, though measures expected for six months

Venues will remain open with social distancing in place, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced with further confirmation by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Johnson stated that, despite new restrictions being put in place from Thursday, rules are “by no means a return to the full lockdown from March.”

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22 September - Ambassador Theatre Group Suspends All Performances Through 27 November

As a result of ongoing social distancing restrictions, Ambassador Theatre Group has now suspended all performances at its UK venues until Friday 27 November 2020.

If you have made a booking that is affected by this suspension, you do not need to do anything. ATG is currently contacting customers whose original tickets were for performances up to 18 October. Customers booked for remaining performances will be contacted in the week commencing 5 October.

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22 September - Amateur theatre and choirs no longer exempt from rule of six in England, Culture Secretary reveals

Amateur theatre productions and choirs will not be allowed if they have more than six individuals involved under new Covid restrictions, it has been announced.

These groups had previously been exempt from “the rule of six” brought in in England by the UK government to limit social gatherings. From Thursday however, they will have to abide by these rules, as amateur sports teams are set to do.

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22 September - Third of British musicians may quit industry amid pandemic

Musicians’ Union, whose survey also finds one-third of professional musicians can’t access emergency support, criticises DCMS and Treasury over ‘lack of understanding’

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21 September - Garfield Weston Foundation launches £25m Covid culture fund

The foundation has established a £25 million fund to support the cultural sector through the coronavirus crisis, with organisations able to bid for up to £2 million each

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21 September - Salford's Lowry theatre to stage real-life legal dramas as makeshift court

Two theatres in The Lowry arts centre in Salford are being converted into makeshift courtrooms to help clear the current backlog of cases.

It’s one of the latest venues to be taken over as a so-called Nightingale Court by the Ministry of Justice.

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21 September - Creatives including Shelley Maxwell set up production company

With many freelancers contemplating leaving the industry, funders must seize this moment for change and support individual artists or risk losing them forever

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21 September - This crisis is a chance to reset theatre subsidy and support artists directly

With many freelancers contemplating leaving the industry, funders must seize this moment for change and support individual artists or risk losing them forever

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20 September - What to expect at a socially distanced night at the theatre

It has been six months since actors trod the boards of theatres across the country but finally the curtains are ready to go up.

A growing number of shows have been announced both in London and around the country. But how does a socially distanced night out at the theatre work? And if theatres can’t fit as many people in as they did pre-pandemic, does that mean tickets are more expensive?

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18 September - Panto dames to march on Westminster in call for action to save theatre

Pantomime dames will march through London on September 30, as they join fellow creatives in highlighting the plight facing the theatre industry and its workers

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18 September - Most UK arts organisations hope to present in-person shows by December – report

Almost three quarters of UK arts organisations expect to return to in-person performances by the end of the year, a news study by TRG Arts has revealed

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18 September - Westminster Council reveals plans for open-air festival featuring West End shows, ENO and more

Westminster City Council has revealed plans to host a series of arts experiences for visitors in early October.

As part of their “Inside Out” festival, the area will mount open-air performances from West End musicals, the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, and the Royal Philharmonic Brass Ensemble, as well as an open-air gallery on the National Gallery’s north terrace on Trafalgar Square.

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17 September - Pay freeze and lay-off clause in Covid-19 contract changes for backstage workers

Backstage workers will see their pay frozen and have contracts that provide for lay-offs in relation to further Covid-19 restrictions, under temporary contract changes aimed at getting the industry “back on its feet”

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17 September - Nuffield Southampton Theatres venue to reopen following takeover by Mayflower Theatres Trust

The Nuffield Southampton Theatres’ city venue will reopen under new management and with a new name, it has been revealed.

The Studio 144 building, which houses a variety of spaces, will look to welcome visitors from next spring after a takeover was approved this week.

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17 September - Post-Covid, resilient critics can prove their worth in the theatre ecology

Reviewers have always performed the function of providing a physical link between a potential attendee and a show. Andrzej Lukowski says that now, with audiences stuck at home, these strange times still need documenting

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17 September - The Mousetrap announces West End casts for socially distanced run

The Mousetrap, the world’s longest-running show, has announced a cast for its return to the West End.

Agatha Christie’s whodunnit, which first played in London over 67 years ago, will be presented with no touching and social distancing on stage. The theatre will take additional COVID-19 precuations backstage and in the St Martin’s Theatre auditorium, where every other row will be removed to accommodate socially distanced audiences of 200. The measures are in accordance with stage four of the Government’s Road Map for the return of live theatre and music.

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17 September - National Theatre announces plans for reopening, including a pantomime

The National Theatre have announced they will be reopening to audiences on the 21 October, with Death Of England: Delroy and for one year only, a pantomime will be taking the stage, oh yes it is (sorry!).

In preparation for their reopening, the Olivier theatre is to be significantly remodelled in order to stage a season of performances in-the-round, which will achieve an audience capacity of almost 500 while maintaining social distancing for audiences.

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17 September - Operation Moonshot raises further questions for theatre reopenings

Boris Johnson’s Operation Moonshot raises more questions for theatre than it answers, says producer Richard Jordan

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16 September - Cameron Mackintosh: Support commercial sector to power industry's recovery

Cameron Mackintosh has said more government support should be made available for the large-scale commercial sector, claiming this would be more beneficial for theatre’s recovery than rescuing companies that are struggling

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16 September - Actor Cox in appeal to save 'inspirational' King's Theatre

Award-winning actor Brian Cox has appealed to the first minister to help save the Edinburgh theatre that was “the catalyst” for his career.

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16 September - The West End is inching back to life – but it still needs government support

The reopening of West End theatres is cause for celebration, but producers need more help from the government to insure against the risks of putting on shows

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16 September - Touring companies warn of threat to future as they unite for nationwide project

Headlong, Graeae, Slung Low, Kneehigh and Paines Plough are among dozens of touring organisations that will collectively tour to locations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this October and November

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15 September - Stop throwing money at the wrong theatres, Sir Cameron Mackintosh warns government

Sir Cameron Mackintosh has said it is “barmy” that government money is being used to rescue failing performing arts companies while the juggernauts of the West End are forced to remain “dark”.

The theatre owner and producer said it would be the “major West End” shows that would put the country’s “lights back on” by drawing back tourists, providing jobs across the country through regional tours, and putting money into the exchequer.

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15 September - Liam Neeson says £33m arts funding 'a lifeline'

Actor Liam Neeson has told the Northern Ireland Executive that £33m in support funding for theatres and venues is a “lifeline”.

In July, NI received £33m as part of a UK government package for theatres, arts and music venues and museums.

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15 September - Arts workers march to DCMS in protest over job cuts

Arts and culture workers have marched to Whitehall in protest against the mass redundancies taking place in the sector.

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15 September - Diary of a socially distanced director: how I staged a play in Tokyo – from London

When Lindsay Posner was asked to direct a production of Twelve Angry Men from his home in the UK, with a Japanese cast in Tokyo, he took a giant leap into the unknown

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15 September - Nimax chief Nica Burns reveals further West End reopening plans

Nimax chief executive Nica Burns has outlined details of plans to reopen her six West End venues, as she reiterates calls for a government-backed insurance scheme for theatre

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14 September - West End Shows Announce a Return, Even as U.K. Coronavirus Cases Rise

“Six,” the hit musical, will start an 11-week run in November, with other shows including “The Mousetrap” also slated to resume soon.

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14 September - West End musicals: Socially-distanced shows reveal reopening plans

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Six will become the first musicals back in the West End in mid-November, eight months after the curtain came down.

They will hit the stage three weeks after a string of non-musical shows reopen London’s theatre district.

The Play That Goes Wrong, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap and Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt will all admit socially distant audiences in October.

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14 September - Royal Court to open with new socially distanced live performance from November

From Thursday 12 November 2020 the Royal Court Theatre will present six weekly editions of a living newspaper, each edition created and edited by a collective of writers.

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14 September - Andrew Lloyd Webber: ‘We can’t give up — the world is looking to see what we are doing’

Andrew Lloyd Webber is almost alone in his quest to bring back theatre. Why does he bother? ‘The trouble is I’m a fighter,’ he tells Andrew Billen

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14 September - Edgy and elated: how theatre workers feel about curtain-up during Covid

As more venues begin to welcome back audiences, casts and crew are returning to live performance but many are considering leaving the stage industry

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14 September - Theatre needs to rock the boat and hold the government to account

If theatre wants to be seen as an art form that is radical, political and on the side of equality and social justice, then pointing out the government’s inadequate response to this pandemic is crucial, says Lyn Gardner

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13 September - Nimax to reopen six West End venues with social distancing

Nimax Theatres will reopen all six of its West End venues from October for a season of socially distanced shows.

The company’s venues, which include the Apollo, Palace and Vaudeville theatres, will host reduced audience numbers and therefore run at a loss.

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11 September - Leeds Playhouse and Opera North pool resources for reopening project

Leeds Playhouse will reopen its theatre next month with Connecting Voices – a joint programme with Opera North that aims to find innovative ways to reintroduce audiences safely to live performance

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11 September - We mustn’t let the Covid ‘fear factor’ doom Britain’s arts

Our cultural scene was shuttered by Government edict – but the real issue might be the nation’s psychological damage

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11 September - Kwame Kwei-Armah backs Seat Out to Help Out calls

Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah has supported proposals for a Seat Out to Help Out scheme

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11 September - Fauci: We won't be able to sit in theaters until a year after an effective coronavirus vaccine is created

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the (US) nation’s top expert on infectious disease, said on Wednesday we likely won’t be able to safely sit down in theaters for at least another year, if not more.

Fauci made his prediction in a 30-minute interview with actress Jennifer Garner on Instagram Live, discussing the coming flu season, vaccines, and lockdowns.

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10 September - 18-month study to 'uncover true impact of pandemic on freelancers'

The effects of Covid-19 on freelance theatre workers in the UK are to be investigated as part of a new research project

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10 September - In our rush to return, let’s not accept sub-standard working conditions

Stage manager Katie Jackson says differing advice from BECTU and Equity leaves backstage workers at risk from poor working conditions – now is the time to unite

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09 September - One in three central London venues haven't reopened since lockdown

One in three central London hospitality venues yet to reopen from lockdown won’t do so until footfall drastically improves, it was estimated today as pub giants called for more government support.

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09 September - Stage shows will not be affected by new government rules except where audience groups are above six

New changes to lockdown rules, meaning social gatherings of more than six individuals are illegal, will not affect theatre programming in England.

As long as shows are put on within organised and Covid-secure event spaces, such as theatres, these new rules should not impact any scheduled performances. According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson there is only one difference – “there must not be individual groups of more than six” (though single households with more than six individuals are exempt).

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09 September - MPs call for U-turn on targeted furlough extension to avoid jobs disaster

MPs are calling on the government to change course and offer targeted extensions to the furlough scheme to save sectors such as theatre

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09 September - Prime Minister reveals plans for indoor and outdoor events utilising rapid Covid tests in Salford

Boris Johnson has announced tentative plans to trial mass rapid Covid testing for indoor and outdoor events next month.

According to the Prime Minister’s speech this afternoon, “new types of test…will become available, that can turn around results in 90 or even 20 minutes.” Johnson hopes that these tests will eventually be deployed “on a scale no other country has achieved”.

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9 September - BECTU urges government to subsidise theatre instead of waiting for mass testing

bectu has urged the government to explore subsidising socially distanced performances, warning it is “not good enough” to wait for a new mass testing regime.

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8 September - Andrew Lloyd Webber tells MPs the air in his theatres is 'purer than outside' as he calls for help for industry

Speaking at a meeting about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the arts, the composer and theatre impresario said the industry is “at the point of no return” and that it would be economically “impossible” to run venues with social distancing.

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8 September - Theatre-goers and sport spectators could get 24-hour 'Covid passes' if they test negative allowing them to cram back into venues knowing they are safe

A ‘Covid pass’ giving spectators a 24-hour window to return to sports arenas and theatres could be on the cards, Matt Hancock has suggested.

The Health Secretary revealed the government has thrown its weight behind new rapid tests that will allow people to mix with others in close proximity, safe in the knowledge they are virus-free at the time. 

Fans of various forms of live entertainment could return to venues without social distancing within weeks, it was reported yesterday, as officials are ordered to move at ‘extreme pace’ to encourage crowds to attend events.

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8 September - Andrew Lloyd Webber warns the arts are at 'point of no return'

The arts are at the “point of no return” following damage from the coronavirus pandemic, Lord Lloyd-Webber has said.
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The composer and theatre impresario told MPs it would be economically “impossible” to run theatres with social distancing.

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8 September - 'This Is No Pantomime' campaign launched to highlight plight of the arts

A brand new campaign set up by Scene Change is responding to the Culture Secretary’s so-called “Operation Sleeping Beauty”.

 

Titled “This Is No Pantomime”, the scheme said today: “This is an urgent wake-up call. It’s about theatre and the communities it entertains. It’s about cancellation and closures. Without our government providing ongoing sector-specific support, we are witnessing the collapse of our world-leading culture industry. Built up over centuries, killed off in a matter of months.”

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8 September - To Rebuild and Reimagine the United States Post-Pandemic, We Must Put Creative Workers to Work

To thrive post-pandemic, the United States must leverage our creative power, putting creative workers to work rebuilding, reimagining, unifying, and healing communities in every state and territory, as well as within tribal lands. Below, we propose 15 specific actions that the next Administration can take to activate the creative economy within a comprehensive national recovery strategy.

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7 September - The Government is finally waking up – London will feel like a morgue until theatres reopen

It’s taken months for Whitehall to recognise that theatres are no minor sideshow – reopening them is crucial for the UK’s rehabilitation

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7 September - MPs urge chancellor to extend furlough scheme for the arts sector

Julian Knight, chair of the cross-party committee, has written to Rishi Sunak claiming that the government’s current approach renders its support for culture “highly inflexible”

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7 September - Theatre gives cautious welcome to Oliver Dowden’s reopening plans

The culture secretary’s suggestion that theatres could be reopened by Christmas has been met with cautious optimism by industry figures including producer Nica Burns and bodies including Equity

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7 September - Stop treating performing arts like Cinderella

Theatres and musicians have been patient while government makes illogical rules on the hoof. The shows must go on

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7 September - Devolve arts funding to end pro-London bias, says thinktank

Community art projects in London have received more than twice the lottery funding of those in the rest of England, a thinktank has calculated, as it called for the devolution of culture subsidies.

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7 September - Independent work is beginning to go mainstream, but will it last?

Covid is forcing British theatre to embrace groundbreaking work, says Lyn Gardner, but the mainstream needs to stop acting like a magpie and nurture artists instead

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7 September - Side hustle essential: how Covid brought dancers to their knees

Most people in dance work freelance on punishingly low pay – and now lockdown has made things even worse. No wonder they’re taking jobs elsewhere

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6 September - UK theatres could reopen without social distancing within weeks

Two recent articles published in The Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday tell us that West End and UK theatres could open their doors without social distancing in as early as just a few weeks. In a new “move at extreme pace” ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, crowds may be encouraged to return to large venues very soon thanks in large part to rapid-result COVID tests and a new cut-price ticket scheme.

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6 September - Oliver Dowden: 'I want theatres fully open by Christmas'

The culture secretary has suggested that theatres may be able to reopen fully by Christmas, with mass testing for audiences meaning social distancing rules could be dropped.

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4 September - Theatres must reopen to curb job losses, says West End star Paul Whitehouse

Cast and crew members from one of the West End’s most boisterous musicals have stood in silence outside their still-closed theatre, pleading for a date when they can reopen to full audiences.

The 15-minute silent stand by dozens of people involved in Only Fools and Horses: the Musical was, organisers said, a show of solidarity with those in theatre who have lost their jobs and income, and also an appeal for guidance and clarity.

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3 September - Every production should appoint a 'Covid monitor', guidance suggests

Every theatre production should appoint a “Covid monitor” who is dedicated to managing health and safety protocols, new guidance released by the Stage Management Association recommends

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3 September - Online arts map to engage public support for Covid-hit companies

A nationwide campaign dedicated to protecting the UK’s cultural life has created an online map to help members of the public find and support theatres and arts companies near them, as the sector attempts to recover from Covid-19

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3 September - We need an inclusive recovery – that means an end to ableism

Coronavirus has shone a light on inequalities within the creative industries and it’s crucial that as theatres reopen they support those who are most vulnerable, argues the government’s disability champion Andrew Miller

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2 September - Revive London's West End with culture vouchers, urges thinktank

Measures proposed to help area hard-hit by Covid include empty shops being offered to chefs and artists

Discount vouchers, outdoor performances and reduced rent for artist residencies are some of the measures being proposed to kickstart the economic recovery and stem job losses in London’s West End amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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2 September - How have other island nations’ arts sectors coped with Covid-19?

Nick Awde discovers how the island nations of Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand have managed the pandemic’s effect on their performing arts sectors

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2 September - Opposition leader Kier Starmer calls for extension to furlough scheme for 'sectors that desperately need it'

During today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, opposition leader Kier Starmer asked the Prime Minister to extend the furlough scheme for sectors and workers that “desperately need it”.

The ONS (Office of National Statistics) said that the arts and entertainment sectors had been hit far harder during the pandemic than others, with over 50 per cent of employees furloughed and reserves dwindling.

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2 September - Sleepless producer: ‘Rich producers need to get off their arses’

Producer Michael Rose has urged “extraordinarily rich producers” to “get off their arses” and do more to bring live shows back to audiences

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2 September - Though their skills are extraordinary, this is ordinary people losing their jobs

I may have screamed in terror when I saw the West End long-runner The Woman in Black, but at all other times I’m something of a sceptic. Yet walking past the National Theatre one night last week, I saw ghosts.

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1 September - There’ll Be a Theater Season. But How and Where and When?

Announcing stage productions, and timing, has become a matter of wishful thinking, guesswork and experimentation. Case in point: the no-show plan.

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1 September - Vanessa Redgrave calls on businesses to help UK's Covid-hit arts sector

Vanessa Redgrave has urged businesses and entrepreneurs to give money to help restore Britain’s coronavirus-threatened arts infrastructure.

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1 September - London's West End could lose 50,000 retail staff amid £10bn-a-year shortfall after plunge in foreign visitors and office workers (as restaurants lie empty 24-hours after end of Rishi's meal deals)

London‘s West End faces losing £10billion a year and 50,000 jobs because visitors are staying away from the city hotspot, local politicians and experts have warned as pictures show the area deserted today. 

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1 September - Coronavirus in Ireland: Gigs and theatre can return if we can manage exits, ministers tell arts

The arts sector has been asked to come up with plans to ensure people can enter and leave events safely as the government steps up its push to reopen Ireland’s cultural life.

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1 September - Parks, pubs and pitches: where to watch UK theatre in September

Shakespeare at a cricket ground, a festival in a bombed-out church and park-bench drama – plus more socially distanced shows to enjoy this month

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1 September - More protests over NT and Southbank job cuts as workers call for fairer terms

Hundreds of arts workers have returned to London’s South Bank to protest against about 1,000 planned job cuts at major institutions including the National Theatre and the Southbank Centre

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<— August 2020