UK

Theatres are at rock bottom, please save them, begs Joanna Lumley

Her comments come following an announcement by the Prime Minister that while concert halls and theatres can now open, live performances continue to be banned. The Daily Express has now launched its Raise The Curtain campaign, encouraging the public and Government to keep the theatre industry alive. We believe that once the pandemic eases it will be essential for the health and wellbeing of Britain that we can once again enjoy our rich tapestry of culture.

Prior to lockdown, the UK’s creative industries, including theatre and the performing arts, were growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy, worth £84billion a year and employing 1.9 million people.

But the dramatic result of having no shows to sell has created a financial headache which could result in disaster for many of the country’s best-loved venues as they face £330million in lost revenue.

Hundreds of venues are currently drawing up redundancy plans as they stare into a financial black hole.

Joanna said: “It’s so much at rock bottom, I can’t tell you. 

Because practically everyone in our profession, that goes not only for actors but musicians and dancers and chorus people and people who work in theatres, are kind of freelancers. If you are not employed, you are just not employed.

“Theatres don’t look as if they are going to open until next year and will they ever be the same if we are not allowed to be all jostled in with crowds, shouting, clapping or sitting in dead silence?” Live events such as theatre performances and sport matches rely on having “human beings crushed together”, the star added.

She said: “That is how we love it, we are pack animals.”

Joanna is set to narrate an online charity performance of the play Waiting For Godot for the Royal Theatrical Fund this weekend.

She said: “It is really to help people who are going to be out of work for goodness knows how long and whose futures look really shaky.”

On Tuesday, playwright James Graham, who wrote TV dramas Quiz and Brexit, warned the UK’s cultural landscape is “in collapse”.

Extra support could be offered to theatres in England which have been ordered to remain closed for live performances, Downing Street has indicated.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are talking to the arts sector and considering ways in which we might be able to support them in addition to the unprecedented financial assistance we have already given.”



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