Despite last week’s announcement that the National Theatre will be staging a socially distanced ‘Dick Whittington’ this Christmas, London’s 2020 pantomime season will be the barest shadow of its usual glorious self.
That’s why panto dames – including industry veteran Paul Tate, pictured – will make perfect figureheads for a very unusual march through London next Wednesday (September 30). Starting at Cambridge Circus and arriving at Parliament Square just before PMQs, the Panto Parade will draw attention to the plight of creative workers during this difficult time.
The sector is one of the worst-affected by the pandemic: while theatres can technically open again, the expense of social distancing means very few have. Even with the latest job retention measures announced by the chancellor today, there is little comfort for the industry’s huge number of out-of-work freelancers, while theatres that aren’t bringing in any money can’t afford to take advantage of the Job Support Scheme.
When the march reaches Parliament Square, speakers including theatre owner Nica Burns, Equity general secretary Paul Fleming, and Philippa Childs, head of entertainment union Bectu, will call for such things as a targeted extension to the furlough scheme and self-employment income support scheme, help for those who have not been able to benefit from either scheme, government-underwritten insurance for future live events, and ticket subsidy when events do resume.
To book a socially distanced spot on the Panto Parade, which departs Cambridge Circus at 10am next Wednesday, go here.