My love for the performing arts began in ballet class when I was six years old and my family moved to the beautiful countryside of Cropston in Leicestershire. This idealistic setting came at a price, the available activities and clubs for youngsters was sparse to say the least. Luckily for me, my parents suggested I try ballet as a means for social interaction, and they were willing to drive the long distance to bring me to a top school in the centre of Leicester.
Little did they know this would mould my life going forward and performing arts would become a major part of who I am. The love and passion for the arts simply never goes away. Working as an accountant now, it pains me to see how much the performing arts sector has struggled financially over the past 16 months.
FREEDOM DAY has arrived but what does this really mean for our theatres?
Yes, they can operate at full capacity without social distancing but the challenges that still lie ahead are very real.
Consider a theatre production and how many people are involved in getting that show running every single performance – from backstage, front of house, marketing, admin and of course the main stage performers. The current isolation rules mean there could be a number of people within one production who have to isolate due to being “pinged.” The show must go on…………but unfortunately, it can’t. Our theatres rely on their off- and on-stage talent, isolation for a few could bring a whole show to a grinding halt.
Isolation of key staff can quickly trigger cancellations or delayed openings – all at a cost. The lack of cancellation insurance is a major issue for the sector right now. Without it we might unfortunately see some of our theatres close their doors forever.
Investing in the Future
The financial impact on this industry has been catastrophic and recovery is a long way off yet. The impact is not only on current shows or even those scheduled for the next twelve months but also on bringing new creative ideas into the industry. It is holding back talented writers in getting their shows out there for us to enjoy.
There are measures that can be taken to help navigate through this tricky time. There have been some government funding schemes available, but these have not really touched the sides of the hill this industry has to climb. Productions will need to keep a close eye on their cash funds; forecasting cash flows and sensitivity models need to be analysed. The situation has created a moving target which needs to be continually monitored, massaged, and nurtured.
As an accountant, I am engaged in finding financial solutions that can help support the performing arts sector. Fortunately, one of the most direct ways I can help, is to personally get back into the theatres and support the amazing people who give their absolute selves to entertain us. I have tickets booked to watch a number of shows (too many to name but they include: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Matilda and Message In A Bottle). And of course, when the date is released, I will be heading back to DeMontfort Hall in Leicester to watch the annual show of the Stage School that started this amazing journey for me.
Can we overcome this hardship and get our theatres back to fighting fit? I’ll be giving it my best shot!