The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has announced that more than 150 of its employees are currently in roles at risk, with two of its theatres to remain closed until 2022.

Despite the RSC’s smaller stages, the Swan and the Other Place, remaining closed, the organisation said it plans to bring audiences back this winter for the first time since the pandemic closed its doors in March, with plans for a full reopening in spring 2021.

A number of yet-to-be-announced socially distanced performances in the theatre in December and January will be live-streamed.

The RSC also plans more free outdoor activity later this year, following its summer performances in the Dell Gardens in Stratford, with full details to be announced in November.

Catherine Mallyon, the RSC’s executive director, said: “These are incredibly difficult times for everyone, and for the theatre community they are especially tough. Our live performance sector is experiencing one of the highest levels of loss of work anywhere: the personal impact of this is often devastating; the loss of skilled and talented people permanently from our sector is a very real worry for the future; and the impact on the nation’s economy immense. We are today taking tough decisions to cut costs and make sure we can reopen with confidence.”

See It Safely

In a move designed to encourage audiences to venues, a new scheme called See It Safely was announced on Tuesday by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre.

The initiative aims to support venues as they reopen and give audiences confidence in how Covid safety measures have been implemented at those establishments. A See it Safely mark will be displayed by those venues that have signed up to a code of conduct.

SOLT and UK Theatre said that although only a small proportion of British theatres had reopened, the response from returning audiences has been overwhelmingly positive, with many of the runs of new productions selling out and being extended.

NIVA

National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has urged the US government and Congress to prevent the “mass collapse” of the live music industry after talks over COVID-19 relief broke down between President Trump and Congress.

The association, which represents over 2,000 independent venues across the US, issued a statement yesterday (Wednesday) in response to a White House statement that talks would end until the next session due to a failure to reach consensus.

“We have been sounding the alarm since April that if our members don’t get emergency assistance, they will go under forever—and it’s happening,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, director of communications for NIVA.

“This is real. We need help. We urge Congress and the White House to continue negotiations and reach a deal quickly or there will be a mass collapse of this industry.

“The Save Our Stages Act has already passed the House and has strong bipartisan support with more than 160 Congresspeople cosponsoring because they know independent venues can be part of our country’s economic renewal once it’s safe to welcome people back—if our venues can survive this pandemic. We’re also hoping for the sake of our furloughed employees that the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will be extended, as people are suffering through no fault of their own.”

Image: Royal Shakespeare Company