Love London Love Culture’s editor Emma Clarendon expresses her thoughts on the painful neglect of theatre during Covid-19.
Anyone who knows me will completely understand just how important theatre is to me. Whether it is a musical on a big West End stage, a new piece of writing showcased in a theatre off West End or seeing a show that is touring the UK – it is something that has consistently brought me joy over the years.
Which is why it is so considerably painful to me that in this time of difficulty the government and those in charge have really been neglecting an important industry that employs a huge number of people and brings in a huge amount of money yearly. This is despite pleas from big names in the business as well as those who run theatres for help in supporting it – the government has remained very quiet about it.
I felt compelled to write this for a couple of reasons. One, having emailed my local MP asking for clarity about what they intend on doing to support the arts (please bear in mind also that my local MP is in the Cabinet at the moment). The response? Just a standard email outlining the support for freelance workers (which doesn’t seem to go far enough in my opinion) – and no reference to the workers in the arts industry that I was actually enquiring about. The second reason is hearing about how major companies are now putting in place redundancy measures has just broken mine and so many others hearts – and given that I know people who work in the industry I have heard first hand the stress it is causing.
Now I understand that there are other industries that are equally deserving of attention – in particular retail – to help get back on their feet after this is all over, other industries that are seeing redundancies. It is all going to take a lot of time to get back on our feet – but theatre will take the longest if we don’t do something now. So where is that support?
It should be said, I also admire the brave face that the industry is putting on right now, doing all it can to keep contact with the public who love it so much. Whether its streaming shows online and asking for donations or selling tickets to watch productions digitally to try and bring some income in it seems as though theatres are relying on the public (who themselves are struggling financially) to help protect the future of theatre. It is utterly despicable that no formal help is being given to this huge industry.
But to end on a positive note, I just want to say to anyone who works in the theatre industry – I love and support you all and I can not wait to see as many of you as possible doing the things that you love. We will get through this – hopefully stronger and more resilient than ever before.
By Emma Clarendon