Although a handful of London’s theatres are now blessedly back in business, the West End remains resolutely shut: the atmospheric but cramped old playhouses simply can’t accommodate social distancing while turning any sort of profit (a noble exception is ‘The Mousetrap’, due to take the financial hit required to recommence performances in October).
But don’t despair: capital-centric think tank Centre for London has just launched a pretty decent plan for helping Theatreland back on its feet.
While social distancing remains a thing – remember, it’s currently projected to last until at least November – the Centre’s first big idea involves setting aside dedicated outdoor spaces to allow fringe performances to occur in the streets of the West End. You might not get ‘Hamilton’ back any time soon, but some theatre would be better than no theatre, both in terms of providing employment for some of the sector’s many workers, and also to jumpstart the buzz around the West End, currently a shadow of its usual self.
When indoor performances can restart en masse, the Centre has suggested the introduction of government-issued ‘culture vouchers’ – modelled on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme – that could be spent on both shows and West End businesses to help get Theatreland booming again. Being paid to go to the theatre! Imagine!
We can only stress that these are bloody good suggestions rather than actual law, but it’s certainly an encouraging line of thought: we hope the powers that be are listening.
You can read the whole report here.
In other theatre news, the National Theatre is back next month.