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28 January - Are London theatres still demanding you wear a mask?

If you can cast your memory as far back as late November, you might remember that a number of London theatres – including the Old Vic, the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House – instigated mask mandates before the government switched to its Plan B. Some, like Soho Theatre or individual West End shows like ‘Moulin Rouge!’, also required Covid passes.

So what’s happening with them now? Given that they brought these measures in prior to mask-wearing being made compulsory via the government’s now-expired Plan B, we decided to find out what the deal is now.

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Prospect Magazine logo

27 January - Can theatre survive Covid?

Stop-start theatre performances leave actors and audiences in a state of uncertainty

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26 January - Freelancers lose life savings over unexpected tax on Covid grants

Critically acclaimed smaller West End shows are being squeezed out of theatre’s post-Omicron recovery as major players use discounted tickets to attract returning audiences.

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25 January - West End’s small shows squeezed out in price-cutting dash for audiences

Critically acclaimed smaller West End shows are being squeezed out of theatre’s post-Omicron recovery as major players use discounted tickets to attract returning audiences.

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24 January - Theatres across England to retain masks despite restrictions lifting

Theatres across England have indicated they will continue to ask audiences to wear masks for the safety of their staff and other theatregoers, despite restrictions being lifted on January 27.

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24 January - What does 'living with Covid' really mean for audiences and the workforce?

Failing to address Covid safety measures is failing theatre workers and audiences

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20 January - Theatre is a sanctuary in tough times – in 2022 it is needed more than ever

This time of year always makes me think about grief and the way theatre has been there to offer me an escape during tough times – and how much I love and value it. During the pandemic, such thoughts have been even more pressing. 

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Evening Standard Logo

20 January - Theatre groups say end of Plan B is ‘confidence boost’ for sector

The Society of London Theatre (Solt) and UK Theatre have welcomed the Government’s decision to end Plan B coronavirus measures as a “confidence boost” for the sector.

Workers can return to offices and face masks can soon be removed under plans set out by Boris Johnson on Wednesday.

 

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The Stage logo

19 January - Return to office working a ‘huge positive step’ for England’s theatres

Ending working-from-home requirements will provide a much-needed boost to theatres around England, producers have claimed, as they welcome the government’s Plan B measures being lifted.

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19 January - England to ease Covid restrictions from next week, Prime Minister announces

The English government’s “Plan B” measures will end next Thursday, it has been announced.

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19 January - Hundreds of zero-hours workers in Scotland left without pay due to closures

Hundreds of zero-hours theatre workers across Scotland have been left without thousands of pounds in pay following the closure of venues in December, the Scottish government has been warned.

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19 January - Small Business Commissioner Fights For On-Time Payment For Freelancers

Three in five or 58% of small or medium enterprises (SMEs) across the UK are currently waiting on late payments from customers, according to new research from Barclays surveying 500 small business owners.

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19 January - Unvaccinated Magic Mike cast and crew denied payment during closure

Cast and crew working on Magic Mike Live were told they would only be paid during closure caused by Covid absences if they had been fully vaccinated, it has emerged.

This comes as its producers criticised unvaccinated employees for costing the show valuable income. 

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19 January - Northern leaders to put culture at centre of region’s post-pandemic recovery

Report making case for culture as catalyst for levelling up wins cross-party backing

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The Stage logo

18 January - As the fallout from Covid lingers, a little reassurance could go a long way

This month, I’ve received photos from theatrical friends – not actors but, nevertheless, friends who are about to go on stage: “Is this what a vicar would wear?”; “How’s the colour of this jumper?”; “You don’t have a spare ass’ head, do you?”

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18 January - Restrictions to be eased in Scottish theatres from next week

Scottish theatres will be able to play at capacity without social distancing from next week, it has been announced.

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Evening Standard Logo

18 January - Theatres struggling as Omicron wreaks havoc

LONDON’S theatres are still “hanging on by a thread” following a difficult Christmas period, The Londoner hears, as the National Theatre revealed its profits dropped by £50 million last year.

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BBC News logo

17 January - The theatre understudies stepping up to save the show

In the world of theatre, understudies are only rarely needed but as Omicron sweeps the country they are proving the saviours of many a show. What’s it like to step up to a starring role?

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17 January - 50 cancelled Vault Festival shows find new homes

At least 50 shows that were part of the cancelled Vault Festival 2022 have been rehomed by theatres across London and the UK. 

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The Independent Logo

17 January - It’s Blue Monday – but creativity and culture give us reasons to feel optimistic

Research shows that engagement with the arts can improve mental health, and provide opportunities to boost social connections and prevent isolation,

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The Times Logo

15 January - How Omicron gave understudies their big break

The heroes of theatre talk about stepping in at a moment’s notice to save the show

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14 January - Theatre industry welcomes cuts to Covid isolation period

A cut to the self-isolation period for people who have tested positive for Coronavirus – which reduces it to five full days – has been welcomed by the industry.

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14 January - Dames in distress: Britain’s theatres count cost of Christmas wrecked by Covid

Cancelled pantos decimated income at peak time as soaring cases caused cast and crew absences and restrictions cut audiences

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14 January - Covid restrictions on Welsh theatres to be removed from January 28

Capacity restrictions on theatres in Wales are set to be removed at the end of this month, as the country outlines a phased easing of the current Covid measures.

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13 January - Sussex theatre in financial crisis from Covid turns to crowdfunding to survive

A theatre group in Worthing has made a direct appeal to people to help provide thousands of pounds of financial support to keep going.

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12 January - Covid should prompt a major rethink of how and why theatre receives public funding

When the plague closed London’s playhouses early in the 17th century, Charles I stepped in to support the King’s Men financially with significantly upped patronage. During the Second World War, the British government created the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts.

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BBC News logo

12 January - Theatres offer spark of hope after Covid challenges

People in the theatre industry have spoken of their joy at reuniting with audiences following the restrictions of the pandemic and cancellations due to the Omicron variant. BBC News speaks to actors and directors about their hopes for 2022.

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The Stage logo

12 January - Welsh arts companies to be given £15.4m to ride out winter restrictions

The Welsh government has announced an uplift of more than £10 million to its winter support package for the arts, specifically to help organisations weather current Covid restrictions. 

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The Stage logo

12 January - Further show cancellations as Scotland restrictions extended

Capacity restrictions for indoor events introduced by the Scottish government before Christmas have been extended for a further week, resulting in more show cancellations.

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The Stage logo

12 January - Three quarters of freelancers lost work between December and January – survey

Three quarters of theatre freelancers lost work between December and January due to Covid, according to a survey exploring the impact of the Omicron variant. 

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11 January - National Theatre lost almost a quarter of staff due to Covid-19-enforced closure last year

Income at the Royal National Theatre fell by almost half as it made nearly a quarter of its workforce redundant because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the charity’s latest accounts, up to the end of March 2021, its total income fell from nearly £107m in the previous year to £56.3m.

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11 January - Theatre audiences pessimistic about restrictions being removed in 2022 – survey

Almost half of theatre audiences are pessimistic about Covid restrictions being lifted in 2022, however 84% still plan to visit a venue in the next 12 months – according to research. 

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11 January - Not British, not welcome

While we were distracted by news of politicians partying during lockdown, last month a Bill was passed that changes rights to UK citizenship. Amanda Parker examines how it threatens all our creative lives.

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The Stage logo

11 January - ‘A time of crisis’: Theatres reveal lost income as Omicron impact bites

Theatres including Manchester’s Royal Exchange and the Royal Shakespeare Company have revealed they are experiencing “significant lost income” as audience confidence takes a “battering” due to the government’s Plan B measures and rising Covid cases cause shows to be cancelled.

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10 January - Pay cut for Phantom and Mary Poppins casts as reduced schedule kicks in

Performers and stage managers working on The Phantom of the Opera and Mary Poppins will not be paid in full when the shows’ schedules reduce by two performances a week, instead receiving pro-rated salaries in line with the variation agreement of 2020.

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10 January - ‘We will weather this storm’: Omicron wreaks havoc on Broadway

After a successful reopening, Covid-19 has yet again forced many hit shows to either take a hiatus or close for good but industry insiders are optimistic

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The Stage logo

10 January - Vault’s cancellation highlights the void of opportunity for new artists

When the term ‘unproducing’ entered the theatrical lexicon in March 2020, none of us thought it would still be in use almost two years later. Some of that unproducing in 2020 was by early-career theatremakers due to perform in the final couple of weeks of London’s Vault Festival, until these performances were cancelled.

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09 January - Sonia Friedman on pandemic theatre: ‘It’s a bloodbath’

The most powerful woman in theatre and the super producer behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is angry — the pandemic is ravaging her life’s work and she says the government is standing by

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08 January - In praise of understudies

Their importance has been elevated to new heights in the age of the pandemic

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The Stage logo

07 January - Let's hear it for the understudies – and everyone who has kept theatre going against all odds

After the past few weeks, if there is anyone who is not utterly convinced of the talent, commitment and value of understudies, they must be wilfully ignoring the evidence.

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07 January - Theatres are open again — but where’s the audience?

Most shows are back but the industry still faces vast challenges. By Dominic Maxwell

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07 January - Theatre staff prioritising well-being over job security despite pandemic – survey

Theatre workers are prioritising their mental health over increased financial stability as they enter 2022, according to a survey on the continued impacts of Covid-19 on the sector’s workforce.

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BBC News logo

07 January - Irish government to pay 'basic income' to 2,000 artists

Approximately 2,000 artists, actors, musicians and other performers are set to be paid a basic income by the Irish government for three years.

A consultation on how the Basic Income for the Arts scheme will run has opened.

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06 January - West End Rallies to Keep Audiences With ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ Campaign, Major Ticket Sale – Global Bulletin

London’s West End is rallying to keep its audiences amid the surge of the Omicron variant. A new campaign entitled “Don’t Stop Me Now” is offering reduced tickets in the range of £10-£50 ($13-$67) for performances throughout January and February.

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The Stage logo

06 January - Commercial theatre faces a make-or-break 12 months

Last month, I was among the disappointed theatregoers at Broadway’s Stephen Sondheim Theater as a Sunday matinee of the new musical Mrs. Doubtfire was cancelled at the last minute due to Covid infections among the cast. 

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06 January - Grammys, gigs and West End theatre shows - the latest events called off due to the spread of Omicron variant

West End productions of Mary Poppins and Phantom Of The Opera have been forced to scrap two shows a week, and bands such as Wolf Alice have called off gigs. It follows the announcement that the Grammys, America’s biggest music awards night, will no longer take place on 31 January.

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06 January - Biggest challenge for theatre in 2022: recruiting, retaining and training its workforce

Looking ahead at 2022, two themes emerge as recurring concerns for theatre leaders: audiences and the workforce. How is theatre going to create the work on stage? Then, how is it going to find an audience for it?

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05 January - Mary Poppins and Phantom reduce weekly performances to weather Covid

Mary Poppins and The Phantom of the Opera are cutting two performances a week from their schedules, as working from home and rising Covid cases affect West End theatregoing.

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04 January - 'We need to be realistic' - theatre braces itself for a 'very tough' 2022

Producers have warned that the theatre industry is facing a “very tough” start to the new year, with bookings stalling around the country and shows being cancelled as Covid cases rise and new restrictions bite.

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04 January - Scottish government announces details of £43.5m culture package

The Scottish government has announced a further £27 million of targeted funds for culture, bringing the total package of support up to £43.5 million.

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said: “These additional funds will help protect the livelihoods of the people working in the sector – and allow us to give further support to freelancers, culture organisations, venues and our national performing companies.”

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04 January - 2022 VAULT Festival cancelled

The programme would have been comprised of over 600 shows in total, straddling the fields of theatre, comedy, immersive experiences, cabaret, live performance, and late-night events.

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03 January - £65m funding bailout for culture sector amid fears restrictions will be in place for months

Arts venues, performers, event organisers, museums and galleries are to share a £65 million rescue package for the Scottish cultural sector in the wake of new Covid curbs which may have to be kept in place for months.

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03 January - Light in the darkness: 10 reasons for theatre to take heart in 2022

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, things are just as uncertain. Theatre and its workers have proved resilient in the face of many setbacks. It may yet need greater resilience to see it through the winter. This will be tough and it’s easy to be downcast.

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02 January - Classical comeback: the pandemic proves the need to support musicians and orchestras

Covid may have put an abrupt halt to cultural life but the response shows the sector is part of national recovery

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01 January - Just one EU country signs deal to rescue post-Brexit music tours, despite Boris Johnson’s vow to ‘fix’ crisis

Only Spain has signed agreement, leaving artists mired in ‘mountains of red tape’ – with pressure on new Brexit minister Liz Truss to change course

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01 January - Brexit is undermining the arts – and those in the creative industries are not being listened to

Many in the arts will look at 2022 with trepidation. There are still many issues with the Brexit deal from 12 months ago

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