Sheffield Theatres today announces that, due to the continuing impact of the global pandemic, it will not fully reopen until spring 2021. The Theatres plan to produce a pop-up season of work throughout the autumn which will take place outside and inside the Crucible Theatre. Due to the fact that activity and audiences will be significantly reduced for the foreseeable future, the Theatres have also entered into consultation with staff, placing 29% of its workforce at risk of redundancy.
Dan Bates, Chief Executive commented:
“We don’t know when we will be able to return to the same levels of activity in our theatres. We know that we can’t expect to see audiences returning to pre-pandemic levels for quite some time. I am heartbroken that this means that we won’t have as much work for people and therefore we have to reduce our staffing levels. We are entering into consultation with our team and we are considering proposals which include all staff reducing their hours of work as well as potential redundancies. Although this is a hard sacrifice for everyone, we believe it will help us to keep as many people employed as possible. Of our 248 colleagues, 72 people are at risk at the moment. I’d like to thank our team for their loyalty and grace during this extremely challenging period.
The latest announcements suggest that socially distanced audiences may be allowed for live theatre from 1 August. However, we know that it isn’t financially viable for us to produce our usual programme for a reduced audience. We also know that the shows that were set to visit us this autumn have had to cancel or rearrange due to the challenges of touring right now. And so, we are closing the Lyceum and the Studio through to spring 2021. We are currently working on plans for a pop-up programme which will take place in the Crucible and will bring the joy of live theatre back to our city.”
The pop-up programme will begin outdoors, bringing live performance - including a new production of one of Shakespeare’s best loved plays – to the city’s civic spaces. The Theatres continue to work with Sheffield City Council to explore locations. From October the programme will move into the Crucible and plans include a new pop-up panto starring Dame, Damian Williams. Full details of the pop-up programme will be announced later in September.
The shows that were scheduled for the Lyceum, Studio and Crucible through to February 2021 have either been cancelled or postponed. This includes Sleeping Beauty, which will move to Christmas 2021 and Standing at the Sky’s Edge which will be rescheduled in discussion with our producing partners.
Robert Hastie, Artistic Director added:
“We're desperately sad that postponing our autumn and Christmas shows - including Standing at the Sky’s Edge and our spectacular family pantomime, Sleeping Beauty - is now unavoidable. We simply can’t contemplate continuing with these shows when there is such a high risk of them being cancelled if there's a local or national lockdown or a second wave. The effect on everyone who would have made this work happen, our brilliant staff team here and our wonderful freelance colleagues is devastating.
I want to thank our audiences for their continued generosity at this time. Customers are being contacted by our Box Office team to arrange refunds and transfers, and so many of the people we’re talking to are putting credit on their account or making a donation. Every bit of support really helps at a time like this and we are so grateful for it.”
Sheffield Theatres received £675k last month as part of Arts Council England’s Emergency funding. This money is designed to support theatres with losses incurred from their closure in March and will help them survive until the end of September. The organisation has also welcomed news of the Government’s £1.57bn package for arts, culture and heritage, although they continue to wait for further details including eligibility and terms.
As an organisation that generates 89% of its own income and one that welcomes over 350k people each year, Sheffield Theatres’ inability to sell tickets, programmes, food or drink has a huge impact on its finances. The company currently estimates that in its next financial year its income will be reduced by 58% and audiences by 57%.
Sheffield Theatres will be entering collective consultation initially before moving to individual consultation. The organisation has completed an equality impact assessment as part of the first stage of assessing its proposals. No final decisions will be made on roles that are at risk until the consultation process is complete.
Sheffield Theatres is excited to be hosting the first pilot event for the DCMS as part of ‘elite sporting venues’. It will be staging the World Snooker Championship in the Crucible from the end of July for a small socially distanced audience. This is a valuable opportunity to learn how social distancing will work for the theatre. This will also be an opportunity to show that the Crucible is still alive and operating.
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