Theatres Trust calls for extension to furlough scheme

Published: 7 June 2020
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Theatres Trust

Theatres Trust, the national advisory public body for theatres, warned this week of grim consequences for the industry stemming from the withdrawal of the staff furlough scheme.

With theatres relying on reserves to stay afloat during lockdown, the Job Retention Scheme has been central to their survival and the future now looks bleak in light of employers' increased contributions which kick in from August, and the scheme ending in October.

Theatres Trust research confirms that reserves are running out with 59% of UK theatres that are charities—343 out of 581—having less than three months' worth of operating costs in reserves at the time the lockdown started in March.

Read with research from UK Theatre / SOLT that revealed 70% of theatres will be out of funds by the end of the year, Theatres Trust is concerned that the tapering off of the furlough scheme will inevitably lead to further job losses and bankruptcies across the industry and more theatres closing permanently during the remainder of the year.

Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan said, “four theatre operators have already gone in to administration since the lockdown began. Unfortunately, we expect this number to rise rapidly unless the government provides urgent support for the sector. While tapering of the furlough scheme makes sense in other parts of the economy as businesses reopen, theatres remain closed and the majority will be unable to operate viably with social distancing measures in place.

“We are calling on the government to extend the Job Retention Scheme in its full form to protect our nation’s enviable theatres and the people who work in them, until such a time as theatres can reopen fully and safely.”