The Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh has entered enter a period of “hibernation” as a building-based producing theatre, postponing all 2020 shows and entering into negotiations with all staff over redundancies.
Having already lost £700,000 income due to the pandemic, and with indications that social distancing measures will continue to the year-end, the theatre says that it faces the “stark choice” between a redundancy process now to reduce its expenditure or total closure before Christmas.
The Lyceum went dark due to Covid-19 on 16 March 2020 and has subsequently postponed its complete Spring and Summer season. It is now postponing its two remaining on-sale 2020 shows and will only make an announcement for a Spring 2021 season when it is clear that audiences will be able to attend.
“This is an unprecedented, and devastating moment for our industry, and we are already seeing theatres in dire straits due to the pandemic” – artistic director David Greig
As a grant-aided company, it is a victim of its own success in combatting austerity measures, earning an increasingly large proportion of its own income through ticket sales for its productions. While audiences cannot attend theatres, this work cannot continue, although it intends to sustain its community engagement and creative learning efforts.
Christmas show The Snow Queen and a sell-out performance by Adam Buxton will both now move to 2021. Ticket holders to these shows will be contacted shortly and offered seats for the new dates with the option of refunds should they prefer.
The theatre has so far managed to sustain itself through lockdown with generous donations from the public, the ongoing support of its core funders, Creative Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council, and by making use of the government’s furlough scheme to protect theatre staff.
With the furlough scheme winding down and social distancing measures likely to remain until the end of the year, the Lyceum management say they need to manage the theatre’s limited resources in order to sustain it through the pandemic and secure its future survival.
The theatre’s board says that the current financial projections show that without significant intervention, the Lyceum will run out of funds in November 2020. They have reached the “sad but inevitable conclusion that they must act now to protect the future of the theatre.
This week theatre management contacted unions and staff to inform them of possible redundancies and will be working closely with them to minimise job losses as far as possible in consultations starting today, Wednesday 20 May 2020. All posts are under review with significant cost savings required.
The Lyceum’s Artistic Director David Greig said: “This is an unprecedented, and devastating moment for our industry, and we are already seeing theatres in dire straits due to the pandemic.
“The Nuffield, Southampton, where we recently toured our production of Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort of) has already gone into administration with the loss of all jobs leaving its future existence uncertain.
“I fear it will not be the last theatre British theatre to fall victim to the virus in this way with others including the Globe, Royal and Derngate and National Theatre issuing further warnings this week.
preserve the theatre company
To protect The Lyceum from such closure and preserve the theatre company and its ability to create theatre in Edinburgh in the future, he said that the management has to act immediately .
“Sadly, to do this we have to reduce the wage costs which make up the vast majority of our expenditure”, he said. This will mean losing friends from our theatre family – people I am in awe of, who make the magic happen on our stage and who are much loved and valued.
“Very sadly, with our principal income stream removed during this epidemic, the stark choice we face is between a redundancy process now to reduce our expenditure, or total closure before Christmas – an alternative that would leave The Lyceum shut long after the pandemic has passed.
“Entering this period of hibernation will allow us to conserve the limited resources we have through the dark winter of Covid-19 and emerge, hopefully in the spring, with enough capacity to make theatre again with the brilliant theatre-makers of Scotland for the people of Edinburgh.”
The company will continue to work with artists to make plans for re-opening and hope to be able to announce a Spring Season once it is clear that audiences will be able to attend.
Greig concluded: “In the interim, we will be doing all we can with the support of our funders and partners to sustain our community engagement and creative learning efforts and to remain part of the creative life of Edinburgh and its citizens.
“Their generosity and support to date has been vital and heart-warming for us all, giving us the encouragement and resources to see a way through this crisis.
“My thanks go out to them and of course to The Lyceum staff as we work together, to find a way through this crisis.”
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