Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden chaired the latest Cultural Renewal taskforce meeting yesterday where he outlined a five-stage roadmap for the performing arts sector, keeping in line with medical advice and the latest public health guidance.
Oliver Dowden said: “I desperately want to raise the curtain on live performances in theatres and music venues as soon we can – they are the soul of our nation and a lynchpin of our world-beating creative industries. We know the challenges – theatres must be full to make money, and performers need to be safe on stage as they sing, dance and play instruments – but I am determined to ensure the performing arts do not stay closed longer than is absolutely necessary to protect public health.
“That’s why we’ve developed a five-stage roadmap to bring our choirs, orchestras and theatres back safely. We had a roadmap for elite sport, and we’ve succeeded in getting that back on. Whilst the challenges facing performing arts are numerous, we must have clear steps to follow and provide as much certainty and focus as we can.
“Right now, we are supporting musicians, dancers and actors to safely resume training, rehearsals and recorded performances without an audience where organisations wish to. We will then progress with outdoor performances with an audience – and some outdoor events are beginning to be planned for later in the summer. Alongside this we’ll do some pilots on indoor performances to identify the best mitigations to take. Eventually, and only when it is safe to do so, we’ll reintroduce indoor performances with audiences.
“I know the public wants its theatres open, our brilliant performers want to go back to work, and we will do all we can to get them fully back up and running. Our roadmap provides a clear pathway back.”
He outlined the five stages as follows:
- Stage One – Rehearsal and training (no audiences and adhering to social distancing guidelines)
- Stage Two – Performances for broadcast and recording purposes (adhering to social distancing guidelines)
- Stage Three – Performances outdoors with an audience plus pilots for indoor performances with a limited distance audience
- Stage Four – Performances allowed indoors / outdoors (but with a limited distanced audience indoors)
- Stage Five – Performances allowed indoors / outdoors (with a fuller audience indoors
In addition, he added:
- Guidance will be set out and iterated for each stage of the roadmap
- Entering each different stage will depend on the public health context and scientific evidence at that point
- We will be using evidence from pilots and testbeds to inform the position
In response to the news Julian Bird, Chief Executive of Society Of London Theatre and UK Theatre said:
“While the five stage roadmap towards the reopening of performing arts venues and productions is welcomed, it is essential that government gives indicative “no earlier” than dates for stages 3 to 5 now so that the sector can plan for the future – otherwise with no information at all, theatres and producers will have to assume a worst-case scenario and plan to be shut for a long period.
“With the rest of the economy now reopening quickly, we firmly believe that with the right safety processes in place, we can get back to full audiences in theatres within months – we now need the government to confirm this.”