Although the Prime Minister failed to close down theatres by direct means, his alternative method—mild blackmail—has had a similar if more insidious outcome.

Many readers might be frustrated at losing the chance to see a highly rated production in the next few weeks or quite possibly months and have a gap in their lives representing the time that they would usually spend either sitting in theatres or reading reviews and trying to pick the next big investment.

This is the first attempt at what is intended to be a weekly column looking at issues in and around the world that we all love. The intention is to be thought-provoking and also fill that gap in an entertaining way.

In addition, BTG will be introducing a number of initiatives in the coming weeks to keep our readers and listeners amused so please keep an eye on the site and the weekly newsletter.

While we all have our own stories to tell about the difficulties of what might soon amount to house arrest, everyone should also spare a thought for those who work in and around the theatre industry and will undoubtedly be suffering both mental anguish and, in some cases, impending financial disaster.


There are very few theatres that could ever have described themselves as financially stable. Even some of the finest in the land are reliant on government or Arts Council funding to supplement box office income and café / restaurant sales.

In some cases, to misjudge the appeal of a couple of productions in a row could be enough to close the theatre forever.

A government-suggested period of darkness that is likely to stretch through the lucrative summer months could be the death knell for a significant part of the industry.

However, one has to hope that the country’s leaders recognise the value that can be derived from the creative industries and provide adequate support to help most theatres to come out at the other end of this unimaginable period alive if not actually thriving.

We can also help. Many theatres have been sending out communications explaining that they have no choice but to close for an indefinite period. Some have suggested that while ticketholders are entitled to a refund, they may choose to donate the value of their tickets to the theatre.

That is a personal decision and this writer would not wish to influence anybody, although clearly helping theatres will be greatly appreciated.

Charitable Donations

One point that is worth making relates to any theatre that has charitable status. Rather than merely leaving your ticket money with the venue, it could be better to claim a refund and then make a gift aid donation. This will enable the theatre to reclaim tax on a charitable gift and, if you are a higher rate taxpayer, you too can get some tax back.

It follows that your favourite theatre would really appreciate a charitable (or not) donation at this difficult time, even if you did not have any tickets booked.

Theatre People

It is a sad fact that most individuals who work in and around theatre are self-employed. This means that as soon as they stop working, they stop getting paid and have no entitlement to any source of funding. Many live hand to mouth and therefore hardship is inevitable.

That will certainly be the case with many actors, directors and designers, who are often out of work at the best of times and, to compound the problem, tend to do the sorts of jobs outside the theatre that are probably not required at the moment.

Perish the thought but, given the current climate, before too long you may well see your favourite Shakespearean star packing shelves at Tesco in a desperate attempt to make ends meet.

Nobody loves critics but, in the same way, most of them are working in a contracting industry that pays on a freelance basis. They too, will be suffering.

Looking Forward

At the moment, nobody has any idea when this torture will end, even if the Prime Minister is predicting that life will be on the up within 12 weeks, apparently basing his judgement on a well-developed imagination rather than any firm facts.

Since we all need cheering up, rather than concentrating on the doom and gloom, we should all take the opportunity to reflect on what joys the long-term future might hold and also remember the pleasures that the theatre has given us over the years. That is what BTG will be trying to do until the glorious day when we can all return to our seats in the stalls.