06 September 2020
“Hints at a November reopening is welcome, but specifics, support and subsidy essential” - Equity’s President & General Secretary-Elect
Maureen Beattie, Equity’s President:
“Our members have woken up this morning to news that the government intends to re-open live performance in England without social distancing - including theatre and variety - from the 1st November. The tireless campaigning of Equity’s deputies, activists, branches and members has been the key factor in getting our industry - a powerhouse for the economy - to its rightful place at the top of the agenda. Together, we’ll keep up the pressure.
"In short, if the government really intends a safe reopening in November, we welcome that - but it can only be a reality if they engage with the workforce and its unions to ensure workforce protection, the protection of infrastructure, a safe opening subsidy, and investment to secure real equality for already marginalised artists and other creative practitioners. These conditions, Equity’s Four Pillar Plan, are essential no matter when re-opening happens - or we face a workforce and industry collapse.”
Paul W Fleming, General Secretary- Elect:
“Increasing audience capacity for venues, productions and acts of every size could mark the beginning of meaningful industry re-opening. This news would be unequivocally welcome if it wasn’t delivered in such a chaotic way. Government by eleventh hour rumour and innuendo does not give our members the dignity they deserve, or our industry the stability it needs.
"Non-socially distanced re-opening is only a reality if the government provides a financial safety net to the variety and theatre workforce and producers in the event of further stoppages due to reasonable public health precautions.
"Equity is particularly concerned at the suggestion that the government will make demands for ‘dynamic pricing’ of theatre tickets without any additional funding available for theatres. Large swathes of traditional theatre-goers are still making shielding-style precautions, and so capacity can only be realised by encouraging new audiences. This can only happen with meaningful investment.
"By November, much of the permanently engaged theatre workforce are already facing the prospect of redundancy. The Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEEIS) never adequately covered our workforce, and is now being ripped away prematurely. The effect of this, even if live performance reopens, would be a flood of Equity members leaving the industry - disproportionately from under-represented and marginalised groups.”