STUDIES – COVID & THEATRE (listed in date published order)

University of Essex logo

University of Essex: A study of the impact of COVID-19 on live performers in the UK

COVID-19 has cut a swathe through the UK economy and society. One area of work that has been hit particularly hard is live entertainment. Some venues and organisations have been able to access grants and government rescue packages. Performers, who are often self-employed however, face a more precarious future

Read the full report here.

The Audience Agency Logo

The Audience Agency - COVID-19 Cultural Participation, Monitor Inequalities through COVID-19

COVID has been, to quote the title of the Centre for Cultural Value event in this topic, ‘The Great Unequalizer’. In the first summary report from the Cultural Participation Monitor we emphasised that it has impacted everyone: mostly negatively, but differently. Here, however, we focus specifically in on inequality in its impacts. Who is more negatively impacted and how does that relate to or exacerbate previously existing and ongoing inequalities in audiences?

Read the full report here.

The Centre For Cultural Value logo

Centre For Cultural Value - The impact of Covid-19 on jobs in the cultural sector – part 3

What happened to freelancers in 2020? Covid-19 and the creative economy

In part 3 of our ‘impact of Covid-19 on jobs in the cultural sector’ series, this article written in March 2021 analyses data from the Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics. It looks at the impact of the pandemic on freelancers specifically, and how the effects have been felt unevenly across different demographic groups and different sub-sectors of the cultural and creative industries.

Read the full report here.

Indigo Logo

Culture Restart Survey - February 2021

Responses gathered in January 2021 to the Culture Restart Audience & Visitor Tracker research by the Insights Alliance (Indigo Ltd, Baker Richards and One Further) 

Confidence levels among theatre audiences have hit an “inevitable low point”, with social distancing and vaccination now more important than ever to potential ticket buyers, according to new research.

A combination of factors such as extended national lockdowns, theatres remaining closed and the emergence of new Covid-19 variants are fuelling this dip in confidence, researchers conducting the latest round of an extensive audience survey said, but predicted this was “unlikely to be a permanent drop”.

Read the full report here.

The Centre For Cultural Value logo

Centre For Cultural Value - The impact of Covid-19 on jobs in the cultural sector – part 2

What are the national and regional differences, and the differences between demographic groups?

This article written in February 2021 shares findings from a national research programme that is building an in-depth picture of the impacts of Covid-19 on the UK’s cultural sector. This piece looks at the impacts of the pandemic on employment in the cultural sector by analysing labour force data from the Office for National Statistics. It dives down below the headline figures to look at the impact on different places and different groups of workers within the creative economy.

Read the full report here.

PiPA Logo

PiPA Covid Research Report 2021. January 2021

PiPA’s survey into the impact of Covid on carers and parents working in the Performing Arts with a focus on intersectional Caring Responsibilities.

Parents and carers have been under relentless pressure since the first UK wide Covid related lockdown in March 2020, facing round the clock caring and home-schooling responsibilities. Many carers and parents have also taken on additional caring responsibilities for elderly and vulnerable people affected by Covid. The purpose of this research, conducted in October 2020, is to investigate the impact of Covid on people with intersectional caring responsibilities working in the performing arts – an industry, that has been forced to close, resulting in widespread redundancies and very little work available for a predominantly self-employed workforce.

An online survey, conducted by PiPA in June 2020, highlighted the vulnerability of parents and carers in the performing arts. Women, solo parents and carers, as well as those facing other kinds of social exclusion were highlighted as the most vulnerable. The aim of this second PiPA survey, conducted in October 2020, was to gain a deeper insight into the extent to which caring responsibilities during Covid, when combined with other protected characteristics and/or economic disadvantage, lead to increased challenges and further marginalisation of these already under-represented groups.

Read the full report here.

EY Logo

Rebuilding Europe - The cultural and creative economy before and after the COVID-19 crisis. January 2021

The European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (GESAC) commissioned EY teams to produce a report on the state of the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in Europe.
What was their economic situation before the COVID-19 crisis?
What impact has the crisis had on activity and employment?
And what are the main priorities for the sector to protect itself from the most serious consequences, to recover growth and enhance its value in the European economy? This study follows a report of the same type, entitled Creating Growth, published in December 2014.
GESAC has brought together numerous partners representing the CCIs, in order to reflect the diversity and collective strength of this economy.

Read the full report here.

The Centre For Cultural Value logo

Centre For Cultural Value - Impacts of Covid-19: a snapshot from the cultural sector

This article written in January 2021 shares findings from a national research programme that is building a robust and in-depth picture of the impacts of Covid-19 on the UK’s cultural sector. Our initial case study interviews are offering a number of in-depth insights into cultural workers’ experiences during the pandemic and this article brings together some of the emerging themes from this work, highlighting the complexities of the impact of Covid-19 on cultural sector organisations.

Read the full report here.

The Centre For Cultural Value logo

Centre For Cultural Value - The impact of Covid-19 on jobs in the cultural sector – part 1

This article written in December 2020 shares findings from a national research programme that is building a robust and in-depth picture of the impacts of Covid-19 on the UK’s cultural sector.

It looks at the impacts of the pandemic on employment in the cultural sector by analysing labour force data from the Office of National Statistics. The analysis reveals the scale of the crisis with job losses of 55,000 in music, performing and visual arts and a collapse in working hours across the sector.

This article was produced in association with the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and is available on their website here.

Read the full report here.

Early Careers Directors Network: Survey Results and Findings

This is a survey conducted by a group of early career directors who felt like they were being neglected by the arts, industry and pockets of funding as a result of Covid-19. We therefore decided to reach out to other early career directors to see if they felt the same. After circulating our Google Forms survey over platforms including social media sites, the Young Vic Genesis Network, JMK Network, as well as our own contacts, we collected 106 responses in over 2 months.

Read the full report here.

Creative Kernow Logo

Baseline. Covid-19 Survey for Creative and Cultural Sectors in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown of the UK has introduced profound challenges for all sectors of the economy and society. Between 31st March and 4th of July, Cultivator, part of the Creative Kernow Group, facilitated a survey, Baseline., to gather information of the pandemic’s immediate impact on creative and cultural businesses, organisations and freelancers in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, in order to provide a foundation for recovery and revival.

The survey received 216 responses documenting this unsettling period of change, and this report illustrates and shares the findings of the survey.

A key focus of the survey is the impact Covid-19 Pandemic had on the sector – mostly economically, but other response and reflection were also invited.

Read the full report here.

TRG Arts Logo

COVID-19 and the Performing Arts – Six Months After Closure

Donations to performing arts organisations in the UK from individuals have fallen by 63% in the last six months, compared to the same period last year – data analysis from Purple Seven and TRG Arts has revealed. 

  • Data from 288 CRMs shows that the impact on ticket sales from COVID-19 not only continues but worsens.
  • During the six months since venue closure in North America ticket revenues have fallen by 84% and in the U.K. by 91% compared to the same period in 2019.
  • Despite strong performance at the start of the pandemic, funds raised from individual giving have declined by 24% in N.A. and 63% in the U.K. from the equivalent 2019 period.
  • If venues were to be able to fully re-open around Christmas and the new year, many would struggle to make up for current low advance sales for these months.
  • The picture for March 2021 and beyond looks brighter, but this will only remain the case if organizations can confidently invest in marketing activities to build on strong long-term advance sales.

Read the full report here.

University of Exeter logo

Digital Theatre Transformation

Friday 28 August

A research team at the University of Exeter has published its first report on how Oxford-based Creation Theatre have managed to comprehensively transform their company from producing site-specific, immersive promenade work to staging interactive digital theatre shows using the Zoom platform.

The report analyses the company’s business model, its audience’s willingness to pay for digital content, and explores the wellbeing as well as environmental benefits of digital work. It includes a Digital Toolkit that combines practical advice and a Zoom show checklist with guidelines, drawn up in consultation with Equity, for companies embarking on their own digital transformation.

UK Gov logo


Thursday 9 July

Performing arts: Guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants.

The UK Governement official guidance for the Performing Arts industry

We See You Logo


Wednesday 8 July


“…Racism and white supremacy are cultural formations constructed to rationalize unjust behavior for economic gain, and eradicating them requires radical change on both cultural and economic fronts. We also wish to underscore that our emphasis on antiracism should not be taken as an excuse to overlook sexism, ableism, ageism, heteronormativity, gender binarism, and transphobia, as our identities are intersectional…”

Download “B.I.P.O.C. Demands for White American Theatre

A photo of Richard Steggall


Wednesday 1 July

Richard Steggall: Brass Playing and Coronavirus – Myth Buster

Please watch my new explainer video: Brass Playing and Coronavirus – Myth Buster

Production Managers Forum logo


Thursday 23 June

Production Managers Forum: Video – Preparing for and Delivering Covid-Secure Events

Alan Law – Event Safety Advisor presents this 25 minute video about preparing for and delivering events in a Covid-19 world.

SDUK logo


Thursday 23 June


“Over the past couple of months SDUK has been working to ensure that the freelance workforce is protected and represented.
As part of our work we are releasing some research into the importance of the freelance workforce in the creative sector, and also into a variety of financial schemes that have helped support a freelance workforce in other contexts. These ideas are starting points for discussion – this is an ‘opening offer’ rather than a fixed set of recommendations.”

Download “Supporting a Freelance Creative Workforce”  here: Supporting a freelance creative workforce

White Light Logo


Wednesday 17 June

A Covid Theatre Practice is Launched with “Production Lighting in a Post Pandemic World”

A group of theatre production electricians have come together to launch A Covid Theatre Practice – a platform for anyone who works backstage in UK theatre to share ideas on how we may have to work differently when theatre re-opens post pandemic. 

The group consists of Gerry Amies, Martin Chisnall, Fraser Hall and Pete Lambert; all of whom are well known on the West End theatre circuit and between them are responsible for working on thousands of shows over the years. 

Martin comments: “We were all well aware of the hard work being undertaken by a lot of people in considering how theatre can re-open at all, but we weren’t aware of anybody thinking about the finer details of what we do, and how that might need to change in order to get a show onstage i.e. how would you ‘do a fit up’. We then realised that we were as qualified as anybody to have a go at detailing what this may look like so we started putting our heads today. As such, with the help of friends and colleagues we’ve come up with a list of ideas and suggestions”.

Download “Production Lighting in a Post Pandemic World” here: Production Lighting in a Post Pandemic World

ABC Australia logo


Monday 15 June

When and how can choirs sing again without becoming ‘super spreaders’?

“Paul McCartney once said the cooperation of a choir makes him feel “optimistic about the human race”.

But for those who love to sing with others, the expert view on whether we should do so during the coronavirus pandemic is less than optimistic — now is a very risky time to belt out a tune together.

Some experts have even described choirs as ‘super spreaders’.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, several clusters (and subsequent deaths) within choirs in the US and the Netherlands provided a frightening wake up call for the choral community. 

Since then singers have been asking the ABC when (or if) they will sing face to face again, and to help explore the risks associated with singing.”

Slipped disc logo


Thursday 11 June


Dr Adam T Schwalje, Resident Physician , Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, has been working on a full assessment of the risk of speading Covid-19 by playing wind and woodwind instruments. 

Together with his colleague Dr Henry T Hoffman, Dr Schwalje, who is himself a wind player (pictured), has written this paper for publication in medical journals. 



Thursday 11 June

ABTT Seminar – Raising the Curtain: Working Safe & Healthy Post COVID-19

This seminar was chaired by Phill Brown from SOLT UK Theatre as he discussed Health and Safety planning for COVID-19, with a panel of Industry Experts. Phill was joined by ABTT Chairman Richard Bunn (ARUP), Tom Goode from Goode Projects and PLASA, Stu Beeby & Stuart Graham from the Ambassadors Theatre Group, Emma Wilson from The Royal Opera House, Gary Wright from Charcoal Blue and Gav Pell from Pirate Crew. Together they investigated the way forward for our Industry after the current pandemic, possible strategies for reopening and the precautions that must be in place for this to happen.

Full Findings Statistics ‘at a glance’ here: After The Interval at a glance

Read the Full Report here: After The Interval full findings

Nashville Music Scoring logo


Tuesday 9 June

Brass and Woodwind Safety in the COVID envirorment

This video intends solely to show that the the commonly held belief that wind and brass instruments “project” air over great distances is not true. As a result, “droplets” are not spread a great distance as some assume. This video does not address any aerosol issues. Aerosols may or may not be a significant means of transmission. While there have been studies that show aerosols can remain in the air for a period of time, it has not (as of yet) been shown scientifically that this is a major means of actual virus infection. While anecdotal, it should be noted that there are not generally huge outbreaks of flu each year in orchestras and recording studios. If aerosols were a huge contributing factor in virus transmission, one would think that every year there would be large outbreaks of flu in performing organizations. There are not. This video is not, in itself, a scientific study, but was meant to demonstrate information provided in other scientific studies. For those interested in these studies that are specific to musical instruments and performances, please investigate the following links:……

Indigo Logo


Monday 8 June

After the Interval: Full 6 Week report report now available

Indigo – A consultancy for the cultural sector – has produced a national report “After the Interval” a UK-wide survey of 137,000 attenders of live cultural events.

The full findings after 6 weeks of surveying over 137,000 audience members from 317 organisations show that audiences are booking less, and becoming less confident about attending large gatherings without social distancing measures in place.

The full study received responses from 16 April – 27 May, before the latest set of lockdown relaxations were announced. So this research reflects what audiences were thinking and feeling during that six-week period.

Full Findings Statistics ‘at a glance’ here: Full Findings Statistics at a glance

Read the Full Report here: Read the Full Report here

British Film Commission Logo


Thursday 4 June

BRITISH FILM COMMISSION-Working Safely During COVID-19 in Film and High-end TV Drama Production

This document is intended to provide high-level guidance to manage COVID-19 specific risk in producing film and high-end TV drama in the UK.

It has been prepared in consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) with input from crew and crew representatives, industry bodies, unions and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the latest UK Government guidance. Productions based in Northern IrelandScotland and Wales should additionally check for the relevant devolved Government guidance as it may differ.

Download the study here: Working Safely During Covid19

Pirate Crew logo


Thursday 4 June

PIRATE CREW – Virus Protection Protocol for Crew

Crewing company, Pirate Crew, have produced this guide to working in the entertainment industry during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Louise Blackwell Logo


Monday 1 June

THIS IS THE TIME – A snapshot of the creative industry’s independent workers: their needs, ideas, dreams and offers to support themselves and their industry.

‘It feels like a sector wide (creative art/cultural industries) research document taking a snapshot of the current situation for freelancers, would be so helpful in the rebuilding phase.’

Over 70% of the Creative Industries is a self-employed workforce. There are also many entrepreneurial individuals who run small companies with under 5 staff. These independent thinkers and makers are the life-blood of the arts and culture sector and an important part of the cultural ecology in the UK.

Covid-19 is having a devastating effect on these people.

This document is a snapshot of this time as experienced by those working
in the performing and visual arts in England. It outlines some key problems the independent workforce is facing, and presents a series of ideas and visions that might contribute to a vibrant, impactful and imaginative Creative Industries sector now and in the future.

Download the study here: This Is The Time Report

Welsh Assembly logo


Monday 1 June

WELSH PARLIAMENT: Impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the arts sector

“The Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee is looking into the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on areas within its remit, including the arts….”

Download the study here: Impact of Covid on the arts sector

American Repertory Theater logo


Wednesday 27 May

Roadmap for Recovery & Resilience in Theater – A Collaboration Between the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University and the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

“For theaters around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in existential uncertainty about our future. It has also created an opportunity for a necessary reset and reimagining.

As we look to our future at the A.R.T., we see an opportunity to make an ongoing commitment to public health in our practice and our programming. We view this as a process that will guide our work for years to come. This journey will eventually include the creation of our new home in Allston—a breathable and healthy building that will provide a space for vital civic dialogue about the world we want to be.”

Charcoal Blue Logo


Wednesday 1 April

Performance Buildings in a Post-Pandemic World – What awaits us when artists and audiences return?

“It’s true that Broadway didn’t close during the so-called “Spanish” flu, but public entertainment venues were indeed closed in London and almost every other city in the US. While the performing arts industry is currently reeling from the blanket closure of venues, we can find useful guidance in the precedent of that earlier pandemic.

Following the re-opening of theatres, there was increased scrutiny of the health-worthiness of places for entertainment. Public health was on the mind of the theatre-going public and theatres began to boast about ventilation in advertisements.

The closure of venues in 1918 was not a death knell for the arts. The decade after the 1918 flu, fuelled by the post-war boom, saw the rapid development of theatre venues and a sustained period of well-funded creative development.

As audiences and artists return, venues will need to make a number of quick shifts. Audiences will need to be assured that attending events is safe. The conditions for artists, likewise, may need to be modified according to new best practice. Short-term impacts on certain performance types may also be experienced. We have every confidence that post COVID-19 performance practice will look largely the same as before.”

Download the study here: Performance Buildings in the Post-Pandemic World

back to top