U.K. creative industries workers’ union Bectu has reported that job losses in the theater industry have jumped from 3,000 to 5,000 in a month.
Some 2,700 of the job losses are set to take place in London and the West End while the other losses are distributed around the U.K. They include redundancies of those who are permanently employed, and lay-offs of casual workers and zero hours contract staff. Both types of workers are paid through a company pay-roll and are entitled to payments through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The theater industry has been particularly hard hit because of social distancing rules and their hopes took a further blow when it was announced last week that the earliest they could look at opening was November.
A high-profile casualty in the sector has been Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.”
“The clock is still ticking to save the future of the theater industry and these figures demonstrate the scale of the crisis it is facing,” head of Bectu Philippa Childs said. “Despite details of the arts recovery package being announced we are still nowhere closer to the money being distributed.”
“Freelancers are crying out for help and support and having to rely on charity and their entrepreneurial instincts of going out to find a job in other parts of a heavily damaged economy. Their future in the industry is deeply uncertain. Funding from the arts recovery package is expected to reach theaters in October. That must be fast-tracked and the money must be made available to theaters and its workforce in the coming weeks, not months,” Childs added.
It is estimated that the U.K. theater industry employs around 290,000 people and 70% of those people are freelance.