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Theatres reopen: Will theatres reopen? Study reveals theatres' fate


Theatres have been closed for months now, and many have resorted to other methods of bringing theatre to fans. With YouTube acting as an important way for fans to enjoy theatre, other ways have included watching monologues and other performances. Thanks to exclusive data from theatre company SeatPlan, Express.co.uk can shed light on the fate of theatres post-lockdown.

As is often the case with cultural activities such as theatre, a huge part of what keeps theatre open is the fans attending shows.

In paying for tickets, snacks, programmes and other goodies at shows, fans are ensuring theatres can afford to stay open and will be more likely to do so after lockdown if the theatre-going public stand by them.

According to the research from SeatPlan, theatre-goers remain steadfast, with 88 percent of them saying they are as likely or even more likely to attend a West End theatre after lockdown.

This will bode well for the reopening of theatres, as will the statistic showing how 71 percent of theatre fans have streamed a West End show since the lockdown, which is a 400 percent increase than previously.

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Along with this, search around streamed theatre performances has also jumped up in lockdown, with NT Live being the most popular, receiving over 20x more interest than previous peaks.

While these statistics are exciting, especially for the National Theatre, there are sadly some downsides.

For the public, some safety measures may put them off seeing a show, with face masks and reduced-capacity performances proving to be the measures which will least likely encourage fans to return to theatres.

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As well as this, while there is a huge uptake in streamed performances, only 28 percent of fans have paid for their stream, which certainly will mean continuing in this way would not help to keep theatres open, or finance them well enough pre-lockdown.

Finally, 94 percent of people say they would not spend over £20 on a streamed performance, which is a major decrease in the takings theatres can usually expect.

For a usual theatre performance, tickets usually start at £20, with better seating placement and the experience of theatre meaning fans can pay more than £250 for tickets at some shows.

As well as these statistics, there are also complications to how performances will be put on, in terms of social distancing for actors, crew, and especially for touring shows.

A recent poll from Bectu, the creative union, revealed 96 percent of theatre working members of the union want clear guidelines from government in how to get back to work, and it is now more important than ever those things are set up.

The Departments for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have recently set up a taskforce to look into creating guidelines for creative industries such as theatre, as well as what financial support may be needed for theatres.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “Theatre workers need additional financial support through this crisis, as do the theatres.

“Uniform guidance for the entire sector on how it will get back to work is a crucial part of the plan.”

Hopefully when theatres begin to open up again, fans will be getting the chance to head away.

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