Broadway Theatre joins West End going dark amid coronavirus fears

The Broadway Theatre in Catford has announced that it will close temporarily following Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday 16th March that the public “should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues.”

Equity the actors’ trade union reacted immediately with a statement saying: “The implication of this advice is that almost all theatres in the UK, including the West End of London, will close with immediate effect for a period to be determined.”

The Society of London Theatre and UK responded by saying: “The safety of our audience and workforce is paramount to us as we navigate this challenging time. We, therefore, regret to announce that as of this evening all SOLT and UK Theatre member venues will close this evening (including tonight’s performances) in light of the most recent official government advice. They will remain closed until further notice and will re-open as soon as possible, following government recommendations.”

“The magic of theatre lies in its live performances and it is not something that can be experienced in the same way remotely”

As the Government’s announcement stopped short of a ban or order to close, fears that the inevitable financial losses would hit the theatres sparked anger.

Many in the entertainment industry are on zero hour contracts and precarious terms and conditions.

The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications & Theatre Union, BECTU report: “Theatre workers have been dramatically affected by the government advice. At the time of the survey 36% called for Bectu to lobby the government for pay if public events are banned while 31% asked for sick pay that covers self-isolation.

These findings show that theatre workers, many of whom work on casual contracts and zero-hours contracts, had already anticipated the measures the government introduced later in the week and were aware of the precarious situation they are in.”

Doubts about whether the theatres have insurance cover have been riased. The Stage newspaper commented that the lack of clarity in the wording of the government advice “will give insurers another possible argument to avoid paying out”.

Meanwhile, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP pledged to press for an “effective package of measures” and claimed “The government has prioritised loans for business but has not secured assurances that jobs will be protected in exchange.”

 

Broadway Theatre AH Speaking Pic 0320
Cllr Alan Hall said: “Lewisham is the home of many in the creative and entertainment industries. I know we will pull together as a community but the Government need to provide the funds.

 

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