Last week the dates for reopening theatres with social distancing in place got pushed back and the potential for venues opening without social distancing will be ‘reviewed’ in November.
It looks increasingly more likely that a majority of stages around the country will lie ‘dark’ for much longer than first anticipated patiently waiting for performers to tread their boards once more.
More venues across the country have announced their temporary closures until spring 2021 and others have confirmed the cancellation of their 2020/21 pantomimes as deadlines for contracting freelance staff are fast approaching. This affects those who work full time at venues but also the freelance community with whom we engage in around 40 contracts each year.
These individuals are part of the wider creative company, an infrastructure on whom our industry depends to assist us in producing our home-grown theatre produced at The Swan Theatre, Commandery and more recently Huntingdon Hall. All have expertise which are key to the success of the infrastructure of our business, actors, directors, writers, wardrobe mistresses, lighting designers, wig makers, stage managers, musical directors, musicians, choreographers, dancers, sound engineers, set designers, prop makers, fight directors etc.
The list is long and the skills are even longer, it would be impossible for a small organisation such as Worcester Live to employ all these people full or even part time so hence they work on a freelance or self-employed basis.
Their skills are crafted over many years in and out of various venues and in simple terms they are vital to our survival. To hear devastating stories that these talented individuals from our industry are rethinking their careers because of the on-going hardships they are facing, with no restart date in sight and continued delays for reopening small regional theatres such as ours, affects our industry far beyond our closed doors. The longer our venues remain closed, the greater losses our industry will face.