Theatres on verge of cancelling Christmas shows and panto season as fears grow they won’t reopen until Easter next year – The Sun


THEATRES are on the verge of cancelling Christmas shows and the panto season as fears grow they won’t reopen until Easter next year.

Venues around the country have been shut since the coronavirus lockdown was enforced on March 23.

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Owners have been warned theirs is likely to be one of the last sectors to be allowed to reopen because of their tightly packed audiences.

The Sun can also reveal that musical impresario Cameron Mackintosh, who owns eight central London theatres, has privately warned he doesn’t think his sites will put on shows until March 2021.

Performance industry bosses warned that theatres must decide in a few weeks time whether to put on Christmas shows.

Large productions can need a six month lead-in to recruit and rehearse.

Calls are now being made on ministers to step in and help to save the crisis-hit industry.

Society of London Theatre chief executive Julian Bird warned that 250,000 jobs across the sector are now under dire threat.

'WE NEED CLARITY'

Mr Bird told The Sun: “We accept we will be one of the last industries to go back.

“People would love to put on Christmas shows but decision time is approaching.

“We need clarity from the government on financial support, insurance and safety.

“A large work force is in peril so the Government need to be very clear.

“Is it prepared to keep investing in an extraordinary talented industry that is world leading but has no income, and may not have for a significant period of time?”

Industry work carried out on social distancing inside theatres has revealed that audiences would have to be slashed down to just 20% of their usual size for productions to be safe.

International visitor numbers, that theatreland relies on, are also expected to be very low too through out the whole year even when travel bans are lifted.

Mr Bird added: “The vast majority of venues would struggle to open if social distancing is required in the audiences.

“The economic business case simply doesn’t add up. Shows are very expensive to put on so you need full houses.”

The arts and entertainment sector has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis along with hospitality, with four in five businesses forced to shut.

A spokesman for Cameron Mackintosh Limited: “Like all businesses right now Cameron Mackintosh Limited is modelling many different scenarios for the future but until there is a Government directive no plans can be confirmed.”

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