The coronavirus pandemic has affected many aspects of leisure and entertainment, one of them being theatres. They benefited from the Government’s £1.75 billion Culture Recovery Fund after the first lockdown, but as we move into a second lockdown, there are doubts as to how they will be supported.

The Mercury Theatre in Colchester was one of theatres, amongst over 1300 theatres, museums, orchestras and music venues, to receive a lifeline of £250,000 in order to support staff wages, venue maintenance, community projects, etc. Steve Mannix, Executive Director of the Mercury, stated: “These funds will not only enable us to pay the wages of our staff team to next April, but to launch our new youth and community programme, commission local artists and creatives and help to at long last throw open the doors to our brand spanking newly refurbished theatre in the Mercury’s announcement of securing the financial support. Yet, not long after this brilliant news, England is proceeding into a second lockdown.

As we now enter into a second lockdown, can the government provide this level of financial support again? Michael Gove explained that although ministers believe based on current evidence that the lockdown restrictions can be lifted by the 2nd of December as planned, there is stress as we “need to get the R rate below 1”.

Even after the lockdown restrictions are lifted, the national tier system is to be reintroduced, so due to the very nature of theatre venues, they will not be fully functioning in the foreseeable future. On top of this, the furlough scheme is also to be extended to March 2021, despite the plan being that lockdown is lifted in early December. All of these complications make it difficult to predicted how and if theatres will be supported, and surface the question: how will they be able to support themselves?

Most venues have systems in which people can donate to keep them running and many are streaming previous shows and rehearsals for a small fee online. It is almost vital for theatres that people make use of these opportunities if possible as they contribute to the likelihood of theatres being able to flourish once again after the pandemic has waned.