William Shakespeare was one of the greatest playwrights in history and is studied by children in the UK every year. His works are performed in new and exciting ways at The Globe Theatre in London, which was rebuilt just a stone’s throw from his original South Bank playhouse. However, with the coronavirus continuing to leave devastation in its wake, The Globe may be the next thing to go.
Will The Globe Theatre close for good?
The Globe Theatre has turned to the government for help during this time when theatres everywhere are forced to close.
The theatre says it is unable to claim funding from the Arts Council England, as it is ineligible, so has turned to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for financial assistance to stop it from closing.
The Globe, like all other London theatres, has been closed since March 20 after a directive from the Prime Minister prevented it from opening.
The theatre submitted evidence to the DCMA committee along with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group and the Donmar Warehouse.
In a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, it said: “We are a model for the non-subsidised arts sector that is well-run, well-managed and financially resilient, but in the face of a crisis such as this one, there is no mechanism to help us.
“In a crisis such as this one, ACE [Arts Council England] has been unable to support an organisation of our size and scale.
“As an organisation that contributes so much to the UK’s cultural life, that delivers public benefit, and that stewards one of the most important, recognised and well-loved buildings in the country, we would hope that we have earned the right to be supported in return through this crisis.”
The Globe’s representatives were blunt about how badly they would be affected if they do not receive emergency funding, stating: “We will be forced to close.
“Without emergency funding and the continuation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we will spend down our reserves and become insolvent.”
The DCMS committee chair, MP Julian Knight, said in his evidence submitted to the Culture Secretary: “Shakespeare’s Globe is a world-renowned institution and not only part of our national identity, but a leading example of the major contribution the arts make to our economy.
“For this national treasure to succumb to Covid-19 would be a tragedy.”
The Arts Council England opened up a £160million emergency relief fund for theatres, but The Globe does not receive funding from this body and claims it cannot access any funding from the organisation.
The Globe also claimed it applied for funding from the ACE for organisations which are not usually in receipt of funding, but was denied.
According to The Globe, 95 per cent of its revenue comes from ticket sales, meaning a closure of this length is catastrophic for its finances.
A government spokesman told the BBC: “We are providing unprecedented support for the cultural sector, including the job retention scheme, a years’ business rates holiday, and the Arts Council’s £160m emergency response package.
“We’re now working closely with the industry to plan for the future and, as soon as it is safe to do so we will be encouraging everyone to get out and experience the UK’s fantastic theatrical and cultural offerings again.”
An Arts Council spokesperson said: “We launched a £160m emergency response package to support the sector in the immediate term; we received over 13,500 applications to our funds for independent organisations and individuals, and unfortunately have not been able to help everyone who applied.
“We are working closely with partners, including government, to look at what additional measures are needed to support cultural organisations over the coming months.”
At present it is unknown when the fate of The Globe Theatre will be decided.