Theatres and arts venues across the UK have closed their doors today, following government advice for the public to avoid mass gatherings. The spread of coronavirus is scary, but the impact it will have on our creative cultures is for many even more devastating. This news will change and shape lives forever, and I can’t tell you how utterly heartbroken I am.
I have lived my whole life as a champion of the arts and the theatre. My friends are creatives. We are all bound together by our love, enthusiasm and passion for the theatre, a chance to escape our humdrum lives and live vicariously through the characters we are introduced to. Now that has left our lives for weeks, if not months, and the consequences for the venues we know and love so dearly are simply indescribable.
Yeadon Town Hall has closed its doors until June, York Theatre Royal until mid-April, and Square Chapel Arts Centre, Leeds Grand Theatre, City Varieties Music Hall, Hyde Park Picture House, Grand Opera House, Bradford Theatres and Victoria Theatre Halifax until further notice too. If I’ve missed any local theatres off this list, it’s probably safe to say they will be closed until further notice too. What horrendous, dark news that will cast a shadow over many lives. Don’t just think of audiences – think of artists, staff, producers – everyone who has dedicated their time and money to producing fantastic entertainment for us all.
Most theatres are encouraging guests to donate the cost of their ticket to the theatres rather than request a refund. Worst case scenario, why not accept a credit note so the theatre can retain the money and use it to recover following these awful closures? It’s a small drop of rain in a magnificently scary ocean, but every little does help. If we all club together and support our venues, we can hopefully come out of this disaster strong and more creative and transformative than ever.
It is a brave step for so many arts organisations and theatres to voluntarily close their doors, to give patrons peace of mind and keep our country safe. The government has advised us not to go to pubs, clubs and theatres – pretty much anywhere where there’ll be a large gathering of people. They have also advised we work from home where possible, and it’s a shame so many businesses aren’t taking this advice. Arts organisations are suffering, potentially dying, and it’s our responsibility and our duty to show respect and follow advice where possible.
For now, it won’t be a surprise to you to discover that I’m unlikely to be posting regularly to One Play More. Hopefully it won’t be long before everything is back up and running, and we can continue to enjoy sharing theatre news and reviews.
In the meantime, stay safe, look after one another and be kind x