Written by Scarlett Regan, Researcher
Edited by Tom Gillingham, Associate Partner
As the curtains open on yet another week of lockdown, many aspects of our society are still waiting in the wings. Namely, theatres. As theatres across the country cry out for support, they will need to be given some limelight if they are going to get through what seems like a never-ending, complicated play.
Chief executive of UK Theatre, Julian Bird, has said that seventy per cent of theatres will run out of cash by the end of this year. Theatre companies across the UK have already lost an almighty £330m. And even the most well-known venues are far from safe: the world-renowned Shakespeare’s Globe in London has lost ninety-five per cent of its income, and has stated that without emergency government funding, it won’t be able to survive.
The struggle is UK wide. Last week, the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh issued a notice of possible redundancy to all its staff.
Protagonists in the industry are speaking out. Playwright Peter Arnott has argued that Scottish theatres should have a common strategy and argument for survival, that enables them to speak to government and society with one voice.
The suggestion that social distancing might have to remain in place until the end of the year also raises some practical concerns about the future of theatres.
In Germany, the state already subsidises ticket prices and theatres can therefore afford to reduce capacity. Recently, theatres there have been experimenting with different playhouse layouts to allow for social distancing. See here for a glimpse of what they have come up with.
Theatres have been wrongly overlooked by authorities throughout this period. As a sector that employs 290,000 people, lies at the heart of culture, and contributes significantly to the economy, theatres deserve some governmental support and protection.
Without urgent financial aid, it is sadly extremely likely that many theatres will soon have to close their curtains for good.
Violence has erupted in cities across the US on the sixth night of protests triggered by the death, in police custody, of George Floyd last week. Imposed curfews have been largely ignored. Police vehicles have been vandalised and set alight whilst riot officers respond with tear gas. Hundreds of people have been arrested since the protests began.
Many primary schools in England are welcoming pupils back after ten weeks. Children in Reception, Years 1 and 6 are able to return from today, with staggered drop-off times and groups of no more than 15 children. A survey from the National Foundation for Educational Research found that almost half of parents will keep their children at home.
Aviation leaders have urged the government to rethink the quarantine to be imposed on arrivals to Britain, saying it will “kill” the travel industry. They warned of damaging economic recovery and the loss of thousands of jobs in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. These leaders were joined in their opposition to the restrictions by a number of tourism bodies and politicians. (£)
Business and economy
Sandwich chain Pret a Manger has called in consultants to help renegotiate its rents, as it tries to avoid store closures. The chain is expecting reduced footfall, with the majority of office workers still working from home. Chief executive Pano Christou has said that if they take the right steps today, the chain will be able to “thrive” in the future.
UK banks have warned that up to half of the £18.5bn of “bounce back” coronavirus loans are unlikely to be repaid. They are lobbying the chancellor Rishi Sunak to prepare for the collapse of hundreds of thousands of small businesses and warn of a “PR disaster”. (£)
Financial services firms are unlikely to return to the “old normal”, a survey by EY has confirmed. In a poll of more than 200 financial services firms, almost two thirds think the workplace will fundamentally change after the pandemic. As part of the research, an EY partner said a greater degree of technology and flexible working are inevitable. The survey also revealed that 99 per cent of firms have found that their employees are working “productively and efficiently” despite the change to working patterns.
Columns of note
In The Atlantic, Michael Owen explores the future of fitness. The last couple of months have proved that fitness can happen anywhere, anytime, Owen says, through a variety of platforms. However, he makes a case for the survival of the gym, where people congregate for a common purpose, stating that this togetherness is more beneficial than we might think.
The Financial Times ‘Big Read’ today examines coronavirus in America’s rust-belt, where unemployment rates have soared. Cities such as Detroit had been booming before the crisis, with a soaring employment rate, an influx of millennials, restaurants and galleries. Now, though, that process is in jeopardy, with the coronavirus shattering economic optimism in these rust-belt cities. (£)
Source: The Times
The week ahead
Many lockdown restrictions are being eased across the world today, with schools opening in the UK.
On Tuesday, primary elections will be held in Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and the District of Columbia. This will test the success of mail-in ballots.
It is a quiet week for earnings reports, with eyes on US jeweller Tiffany, office space developer Workspace, travel food retailer SSP, FTSE 250 environmental utility infrastructure company Pennon and budget airline Wizz Air.
The European Central Bank meets on Thursday and is expected to take a decision on its €750bn asset purchasing programme.
US job figures will be released on Friday, providing a key data point on the economic damage done by the coronavirus crisis. The worst unemployment levels since the Great Depression are expected.
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An app has launched in Japan that allows sports fans to cheer or boo their teams remotely, with the recordings being played straight into the stadium.
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