Sheffield theatres will not fully reopen until 2021 - with 72 jobs at risk

Sheffield's Crucible and Lyceum theates. Picture: Chris EtchellsSheffield's Crucible and Lyceum theates. Picture: Chris Etchells
Sheffield's Crucible and Lyceum theates. Picture: Chris Etchells
Sheffield Theatres will not full re-open the Crucible and Lyceum venues until spring next year - and have placed almost a third of staff at risk of redundancy as it fights to remain financially viable post-coronavirus.

Just last week the Crucible was announced as hosting the first pilot event as part of the Government's ‘elite sporting venues’ project - staging the World Snooker Championship from the end of July for a small socially distanced audience.

Sheffield Theatres said it plans to produce a pop-up season of work throughout the autumn which will take place outside and inside the Crucible Theatre.

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In total, 29 per cent of its workforce is now at risk of redundancy due to the fact that activity and audiences will be significantly reduced for the foreseeable future, Sheffield Theatres said.

Chief executive Dan Bates said: “We don’t know when we will be able to return to the same levels of activity in our theatres. We know that we can’t expect to see audiences returning to pre-pandemic levels for quite some time.

"I am heartbroken that this means that we won’t have as much work for people and therefore we have to reduce our staffing levels. We are entering into consultation with our team and we are considering proposals which include all staff reducing their hours of work as well as potential redundancies. Although this is a hard sacrifice for everyone, we believe it will help us to keep as many people employed as possible.

"Of our 248 colleagues, 72 people are at risk at the moment. I’d like to thank our team for their loyalty and grace during this extremely challenging period.

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"The latest announcements suggest that socially distanced audiences may be allowed for live theatre from August 1. However, we know that it isn’t financially viable for us to produce our usual programme for a reduced audience. We also know that the shows that were set to visit us this autumn have had to cancel or rearrange due to the challenges of touring right now. And so, we are closing the Lyceum and the Studio through to spring 2021.

"We are currently working on plans for a pop-up programme which will take place in the Crucible and will bring the joy of live theatre back to our city.”

The pop-up programme will begin outdoors, bringing live performance - including a new production of one of Shakespeare’s best loved plays – to the city’s civic spaces. From October the programme will move into the Crucible and plans include a new pop-up panto starring Dame, Damian Williams.

The shows that were scheduled for the Lyceum, Studio and Crucible through to February 2021 have either been cancelled or postponed. This includes Sleeping Beauty, which will move to Christmas 2021 and Standing at the Sky’s Edge which will be rescheduled in discussion with our producing partners.

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Artistic director Robert Hastie said: “We're desperately sad that postponing our autumn and Christmas shows - including Standing at the Sky’s Edge and our spectacular family pantomime, Sleeping Beauty - is now unavoidable. We simply can’t contemplate continuing with these shows when there is such a high risk of them being cancelled if there's a local or national lockdown or a second wave. The effect on everyone who would have made this work happen, our brilliant staff team here and our wonderful freelance colleagues is devastating.”

Sheffield Theatres received £675,000 last month as part of Arts Council England’s Emergency funding. This money is designed to support theatres with losses incurred from their closure in March and will help them survive until the end of September.

As an organisation that generates 89 per cent of its own income, it currently estimates that in its next financial year its income will be reduced by 58 per cent and audiences by 57 per cent.

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