December 2020

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30 December - Drive-in venues forced to close under tier four following government 'mistake'

The Drive In venue in London has stated the UK government originally made an error in its tier four guidance, giving them the impression they could remain open.

 

In a statement issued on Christmas Eve, the north London spot, a lockdown favourite of many cinema and theatre fans watching live concerts or big-screen movies, claimed it was “heartbroken” to discover that the tier four guidance had initially been inaccurate and their plans to remain open were based on faulty information.

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30 December - Broadway 2021: What To Expect When New York Turns The Lights Back On

Last spring, in the early days of Broadway’s Covid-19 pandemic shutdown, news reports and industry chatter referred to an eventual (and, it seemed, imminent) reopening as if a light switch would be flipped and the marquees of all 41 theaters would light up the Midtown night. Actors had left their dressing rooms full of the usual personal stuff — street clothes, photos, charms — as if they’d soon be back from a long holiday weekend.

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30 December - More English theatres set to close with new areas moved into tiers three and four

A plethora of English areas will move into tier three – forcing theatres and venues in those locations to close.

 

Under new guidance that will be implemented from tomorrow, Rutland, Cumbria, Liverpool City Region, Bath and North East Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Torbay, Dorset, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole, Wiltshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire, City of York and North Yorkshire will all move into tier three.

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29 December - Theatre faces to look out for in 2021

Every year we do what we describe as a “theatre faces to watch” feature – a round-up of some of the most exciting new creatives making waves across the performing arts world. These have included writers, directors, sound designers, performers, designers, composers and more. If we do say so ourselves, we have a bit of a track record with some great picks – those listed have often gone on to achieve exciting things.

 

This year though, it’s different. Our arts world has taken a bit of a bruising and though the Cultural Recovery Fund certainly did prop up venues and keep lights on (even when they had to be flicked off and back on with the fluctuating tier guidance), our freelance cohort, in particular, has been deprived of assistance and left to make do where possible

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29 December - Over 170,000 people sign petition for Europe-wide visa-free permits for artists post-Brexit

A new petition requesting a push for free permits to allow touring professionals to take up work across the EU without visas has amassed over 170,000 signatories over the last week.

 

As the Brexit deadline looms and a deal between the UK and EU Member states enters its final stages of completion, many in the theatre world are concerned about new bureaucratic and financial hurdles that will be put in place for those seeking to work or tour across the continent following the UK’s exit from the EU.

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27 December - Drama everywhere except on the stage, but our theatre survived — just

It’s been all work but no plays for companies across the country. As he preapres to unleash four brand-new musicals, James Dacre recalls his harrowing year of ‘unproducing’

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26 December - The day the lights went out on my beloved West End

As part of our A Day to Remember in a Year Like No Other series, Andrew Lloyd Webber looks back at the damage to the theatre industry

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24 December - ‘The effects will be severe and long-lasting’: major Bristol theatre slams Tier 3 closures

The theatre will honour its pledge to ‘entertain Bristol over Christmas’. But the industry’s exhaustion is shared by the entire country y

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24 December - Manchester theatre head: Easter warnings are ‘frightening’

Roy Alexander Weise of the Royal Exchange believes the shutdown is a chance to rethink how we run theatres – if they’re allowed to re-open

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23 December - Health Secretary announces new tier restrictions for England

Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced new tiers of coronavirus restrictions for many regions in England, which will come in to effect on Boxing Day.

 

Areas that have been placed in tier three are Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Swindon, Isle of Wight, New Forest, Northamptonshire, Cheshire and Warrington.

 

This means theatres and other performance venues in those regions must close after Christmas. Theatres including the Bristol Old Vic and Octagon Theatre in Yeovil are affected.

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22 December - Sadiq Khan launches £1.3m creative employment scheme for London

London mayor Sadiq Khan has formed a dedicated fund to support creative jobs in the capital.

The £1.3 million scheme, which includes the last European Social Fund money London will be eligible for before Brexit, will specifically help projects in the boroughs of Croydon, Hounslow and Lambeth.

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22 December - ‘What does 'Spring' mean exactly?’: London’s theatre chief on Tier 4 purgatory

Eleanor Lloyd, president of Solt, explains why the arts are nothing like retail, and need months’ notice, not a few days, to re-open

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22 December - Talawa calls off Birmingham Rep partnership after venue becomes temporary court

Talawa has severed ties with Birmingham Rep, with which it was due to present a major season of black-led work next year, after it was announced that the theatre would be used as a temporary courtroom during the pandemic.

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21 December - Park Theatre chief Jez Bond brands the Government’s strategy and Tier 4 ‘disastrous’

The chief of the widely respected London theatre says that indecision and ‘procrastination’ at the top have left a sector in tatters

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19 December - Prime Minister unveils new tier four and stricter Christmas rules: here's how it affects theatres

The Prime Minister has announced a new “tier four” series of guidelines for the south-east of England (including Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire) and London in the face of rising Covid numbers.

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18 December - Stop making panicky U-turns that obliterate our theatrical tradition

have many friends who work in theatre and I wouldn’t describe any of them with the two words so beloved of the Daily Mail: “Whingeing luvvie.” On the contrary. They stoically accept that theirs is an insecure business where you can easily get a standing ovation on a Saturday night and be queueing at the job centre 36 hours later.

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18 December - 'I worked on Priscilla - now I'm a bin man'

James Marsh had built a 15-year career as a sound engineer for big productions and other live events.

But when theatres closed during the UK lockdown in March, he had to rethink his plans.

Now James is a “bin man” and said he was grateful to have a job.

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18 December - Entertainment unions call for Tier 3 theatre exemption

Three entertainment unions have issued a joint call for socially distanced theatre productions to be exempt from Tier 3 closure restrictions, arguing that keeping venues dark over winter could “push [the] industry over the edge”.

Following this week’s tier review, which put yet more theatres under the harshest restrictions and forced them to abandon performances, Equity, BECTU and the Musicians’ Union have come together to demand the sector be given a reprieve.

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18 December - Can the music, theatre and arts industries survive the COVID pandemic?

In Culture Interrupted, we explore the impact on the arts with emerging artists and stars, including @MelanieCmusic @thesisterbliss @roisinmurphy

Sunday 7pm, on Sky Arts & Christmas Eve 9pm, Sky News

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17 December - Tier review: Theatres remain closed as plans for others scuppered under tougher restrictions

Theatres in areas including Manchester, Nottingham, Kent and Sheffield – that had been hoping to reopen – will have to remain closed following the government’s latest tier review.

However, Bristol – which was in Tier 3 – has moved into Tier 2, meaning venues there are allowed to reopen their doors from December 19.

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17 December - British theatre has been betrayed in a ruinous game of musical chairs

It is incomprehensible that a Conservative government has chosen to build up and then break the recovery of a commercial arts sector it always claimed to champion

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17 December - Quarter of people waiting for vaccine before returning to arts venues – survey

A quarter of potential audiences outside London are waiting to receive the vaccine before they return to arts venues, according to a study.

However, those polled in November said they felt more confident to return to venues compared with a first wave of respondents to the same study in October. They also reported that they would be more likely to pay for digital offerings.

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17 December - 2020: A Theater of the Absurd for Europe’s Playhouses

The Times’s theater critics in London, Paris and Berlin reflect on a year of closures, reopenings, restrictions and curfews, in which the show somehow went on.

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17 December - Government support has saved many organisations, but we must still help freelancers

As the industry arrives bruised and battered at the end of a year in which the sector suffered the worst crisis in its history, Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre chief Julian Bird looks back on the challenges and towards a brighter re-emergence

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16 December - Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Hopeful for Broadway’s Return

To make sense of all that has transpired in 2020 and what it portends for the media and entertainment sectors going forward, Variety spoke with a cross section of industry leaders about the broad theme of change.

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16 December - Government urged to support arts freelancers with rest of Culture Recovery Fund

Some of the remaining money from the Culture Recovery Fund should be distributed directly to theatre’s freelance workforce, campaigners have argued.

A letter to the Treasury, signed by Olivier award-winning lighting designer Paule Constable on behalf of the Freelancers Make Theatre Work campaign, says self-employed workers must be able to access financial support for the sector to recover.

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16 December - Dismay as London's theatres forced to close their doors again

LONDON (Reuters) – London’s theatres will shut again on Wednesday as the British capital moves into the toughest level of coronavirus restrictions, with some forced to close Christmas shows just days after they opened, in a hammer blow for the industry..

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16 December - The government’s inconsistent actions have failed the theatre industry

Mismanagement by those in power has brought theatre to its knees, says Alistair Smith – to protect the sector, the government must now underwrite an insurance scheme, better support freelancers and stop messing theatre about with ever-changing restrictions

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16 December - Why are theatres closed but sweaty saunas open?

Ten days ago, the staged concert of Les Miserables (accounting for nearly 100 mostly self-employed performers and staff) opened at the Sondheim Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue — so comprehensively sold out, so assured of a hit that you couldn’t even get a reviewer in.

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16 December - Theatres reveal ‘devastating’ impact of Tier 3 changes

Theatres across London and other Tier 3 areas have spoken of the “devastating” impact of being forced to close before Christmas.

The comments come as entertainment union BECTU called on the government to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme so that workers at theatres forced to close due to a change in tier status are eligible for furlough.

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16 December - ‘The producers put their lives on line to bring Christmas joy’: Brian Conley blasts London theatre shutdown

The actor, who plays Scrooge in a musical version of A Christmas Carol, spoke out last night at the opening show – ahead of closure today

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16 December - Marie Claire launches Save The Arts campaign with celebrated creatives

Marie Claire is shining a spotlight on the creative industries impacted by months of lockdown with our Save The Arts campaign (#savethearts) which brings together talented creatives to share their heartfelt stories from 2020, fronted by Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward

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16 December - 'It's everyday costume': the theatre designer who started a fashion label

When Ti Green’s work disappeared due to Covid, she began her own sustainable clothing label inspired by Bristol Old Vic

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15 December - Sky Arts to broadcast new Glyndebourne documentary

Sky Arts is to broadcast a new documentary looking at Glyndebourne’s efforts to restart live opera after theatres were forced to close in March due to Covid-19.

Glyndebourne: No Ordinary Summer will be free to watch on the channel on December 20.

Read more here

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15 December - Tier 3 'worst possible news' for London's battered West End businesses

London’s move to the tightest Covid restrictions is the “worst possible news” for London’s battered hospitality businesses, according to an industry expert.

Kate Nicholls from UK Hospitality said bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels spent thousands of pounds to make their businesses Covid secure only to lose their busiest trading period.

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15 December - #savethearts Beth Steel: ‘A week before rehearsals my play was postponed’

Award-winning playwright Beth Steel is the Writer in Residence at the National Theatre. As part of Marie Claire’s  #savethearts campaign, she explains how a crisis-hit community of freelancers inspires her every day

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15 December - This government says it's 'here for culture' but wrong-foots UK theatre at every step

Since the pandemic closed venues in March, the advice given to the industry about reopening has been shambolic

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15 December - With Most Pantomimes Canceled, Another Blow to U.K. Theaters

Camp, kid-friendly and hugely popular, the peculiarly British performances usually sell enough tickets to support theaters’ programs throughout the rest of the year.

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15 December - Universal credit: 'I felt guilty claiming benefits for the first time'

“I had this feeling of guilt, thinking about people out there that might need it more than me… I felt as though I didn’t deserve to be claiming benefits at this age,” says Rosalyn Jackson.

She had been working as a freelance actor, doing shifts front-of-house in a theatre and also working for an events company to make ends meet. But when lockdown hit, shifts dried up.

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15 December - 'We don't want to be seen as victims': the older people using theatre to tell their Covid stories

A group of older people in Wales meet on Zoom to share their memories of 2020. Of emotional visits from grandchildren, of neighbours leaving home-cooked meals on the doorstep, of feelings of fear and lethargy but also optimism.

This isn’t a social catch up, however; it’s a rehearsal of a new digital theatre production that shines a light on elders’ experiences of the pandemic and challenges the portrayal of older people as vulnerable.

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15 December - ‘There is no evidence at all of theatres spreading Covid’: fury in London at Tier 3

The chief executive of the Society of London Theatre explains the devastating and unnecessary cost of closing theatres again

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14 December - 'Christmas fiasco' as London move to tier 3 shuts West End theatres

West End theatres are to shut after Tuesday night’s performances as London moves into tier 3 restrictions, and industry figures say the capital’s theatre sector faces “catastrophic financial difficulties”.

About 30 London theatres had fully reopened this month, and some have invested thousands in socially distanced Christmas shows. Last December’s box office takings were estimated at £75m.

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14 December - Les Misérables: 'We intend to continue performances in January as soon as we are allowed to'

Cameron Mackintosh, producer of Les Misérables, has issued a statement surrounding the fresh news that London theatres will have to close from Wednesday – stalling the ongoing concert run of the hit musical.

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14 December - 'Hammer blow' – Producers respond to London Tier 3 announcement

Following news of tighter restrictions in London, producers have revealed what it will mean for theatres

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14 December - Plunging London into Tier 3 threatens to destroy the West End

Theatres have done everything they were asked, only to be shut down again, putting more jobs at risk. These decisions reek of incompetence.

London going into Tier Three is yet another blow for British theatre – one it simply cannot afford after a brutal year, and one that both could and should have been avoided.

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14 December - Sonia Friedman on London's theatre closures: 'This feels like a final straw'

Producer Sonia Friedman, who is overseeing hit play The Comeback in the West End, has issued a statement regarding the closure of London’s theatres.

In it, she promised the piece would return as soon as is possible to the Noël Coward Theatre, where it has been playing since earlier this month.

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14 December - West End theatres to close again as London hit by tighter restrictions

Theatres in London will have to close after Tuesday night performances as the capital faces tougher restrictions. The move leaves hundreds of workers out of jobs and with no clarity on when venues will be able to reopen.

London will be placed into Tier 3 from midnight on December 15, with all indoor live entertainment stopped.

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14 December - Confirmed: Theatres in London to close down after Tuesday

It has been confirmed that London’s theatres will have to cease performances from tomorrow night – with London moving into tier 3 from Wednesday.

MPs were told the news today by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, with other areas in the southeast – Essex and Hertfordshire – also affected. The news was later confirmed by Rupa Huq, the MP for Ealing Central and Acton in west London.

All West End shows with performance dates from Wednesday morning will have to postponed due to government regulations regarding risk mitigation.

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14 December - Some of the things I won’t forget about 2020 and its impact on theatre

The way the pandemic laid bare the fault lines in British theatre, particularly the precariousness of work for freelancers.

As Vicky Featherstone noted around #MeToo: “We all knew.” We all knew that artists and freelancers in every nook of the industry are badly paid and often poorly treated. But it took Covid-19 to bring it into the open. Now, it’s up to us to right this inequality and find new models.

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14 December - Theatre’s digital future is to be welcomed, but it does raise questions

Online theatre advances such as the National’s At Home streaming service deserve our support, says Kate Maltby, yet teething problems of the digital theatre age need addressing

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13 December - 2020 in opera: could a year of crisis leave the industry leaner and fitter?

Opera is the most expensive performing art – but this year was a reminder of why we can’t afford to let it go

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13 December - Tier 3 or not tier 3? Hard-hit West End shows await the fate of London

As fans return to socially distanced audiences, ministers could step up Covid-19 restrictions and bring the curtain down again

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12 December - ‘I crave flesh-and-blood actors, an audience that laughs and gasps as one’: the magic of Christmas theatre

After a tough year for theatre, our chief critic celebrates the joy of the Christmas show, while five festive performers reveal how it feels to be waiting in the wingsn

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11 December - The Government’s attitude to risk is ludicrous – young and old, we need a cultural life

The Government’s scientists are encouraging us to treat each other like chemical weapons. Their attitude will kill British arts and culture

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11 December - Royal Shakespeare Company to receive £19.4m government loan

A £19.4m loan for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will help to secure its “immediate future”, it says.

The RSC, which said in October 158 jobs were at risk, has successfully applied for a loan from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

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11 December - What does the future hold for our great cultural institutions? £165m in emergency loans given to hard-hit UK arts organisations

As the National Theatre, Royal Opera House and South Bank Centre receive Government loans, their leaders talk about their hopes for survival

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11 December - Covid-secure design doesn't need to limit our ideas

Sheffield Theatres creative associate Ben Stones explains how designing in lockdown using a virtual reality theatre saved time and money

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11 December - £165m in emergency loans given to hard-hit UK arts organisations

More than £165m in emergency loans to some of the UK’s biggest arts and heritage organisations has been announced to ensure they survive the pandemic.

The Royal Opera House will get £21.7m, the National Theatre £19.7m, the Royal Shakespeare Company £19.4m, the Royal Albert Hall £20.7m, the Southbank Centre £10.9m and English National Opera £8.5m.

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11 December - More than £165 million in repayable finance announced to support major arts and heritage institutions as Culture Fund marks £1 billion milestone

£165 million offered to organisations including the National Theatre, Southbank Centre, English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company who will be supported by major loans from the Culture Recovery Fund.

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10 December - Theatre must prove insurance is ‘only barrier’ before government backs scheme – culture minister

The theatre and performing arts sectors must prove that insurance is the only obstacle blocking the industry from reopening before a government-backed scheme is likely, culture minister Caroline Dinenage has said.

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10 December - Talking Heads cast and crew donate almost £300,000 to Theatre Artists' Fund

The collective of writer, actors, directors, producer and heads of department featured on the BBC production of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads have donated almost £300,000 to fundraising cause the Theatre Artists’ Fund.

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