The U.K.’s iconic Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) theaters at Stratford-upon-Avon will not reopen for full productions until 2021 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon have confirmed.
In the meantime, the RSC’s activities will continue outdoors and online.
“Despite our wish to re-open our theaters by the end of the year, it is now clear that the ongoing pandemic and the continued need for social distancing mean that we will not be able to stage full RSC productions in our theaters before 2021,” Doran and Mallyon said.
“Despite our theaters being temporarily closed, our acting company continues to work on events and activities, including our program of outdoor Shakespeare in Stratford. We will look at what other events, and online activity we can continue to provide for our audiences in the autumn and winter.”
The arts sector has been hard hit by the pandemic and the government has announced a $1.9 billion lifeline that is in the process of being implemented. This includes a £500 million ($664 million) Cultural Recovery Fund disbursed via Arts Council England.
“We very much hope that the government review of social distancing measures in November will bring positive news for the industry, and provide a timeline for when we can welcome our audiences back into our theaters again,” said Doran and Mallyon.
The RSC will begin a formal consultation process with employees in October to determine the organization’s future. “It is with great sadness that we have now reached the stage where a formal consultation process with employees must take place to safeguard the long-term future of the Company,” said Doran and Mallyon. “We had hoped that things would have become more positive by now, but this has not been the case.”
The U.K. government’s coronavirus job retention scheme comes to an end in October. Consequently, the RSC has informed employees that they will be unable to pay casual workers and those on variable hours contracts from Nov. 1, though they will remain employed or on their books for when work opportunities return in the future.
“Every one of our colleagues makes the RSC the Company that it is, and every one contributes to its success,” said Doran and Mallyon. “They show exceptional talent, professionalism, skill, commitment and care at all times and we thank them for their ongoing support.”
The RSC operates the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Swan Theatre and the Studio Theatre at The Other Place.