Being a replica of an Elizabethan theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre on the Southbank doesn’t have an actual curtain, but nethertheless it’s in danger of falling on this theatrical institution due to coronavirus.
Normally by this time of year we’d be buying up tickets to watch Troilus & Cressida or Macbeth in one of the Midnight Lates, fully expecting to be rained on as we cower cheek-to-jowl with culture lovers (or Americans), huddling for warmth and wishing we’d paid the extra to sit in the middle or upper galleries. But this year the very idea of theatres opening until at least summer, if not beyond, feels unlikely. And at Shakespeare’s Globe it’s starting to look terminal.
It emerged yesterday that the theatre, one of the gems of Bankside and cultural wonders of the capital, is not eligible for support from Arts Council relief funding, leaving them perilously close to bankruptcy.
“Without emergency funding and the continuation of the coronavirus job retention scheme, we will spend down our reserves and become insolvent… This has been financially devastating and could even be terminal”, the theatre explained to MPs yesterday as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee heard about the impact of coronavirus on theatres.
95% of The Globe’s funding comes from ticket sales, tours, retail and its cafe as well as workshops for students and suchlike. As it doesn’t take grants from the Arts Council, it is ineligible to access the £90m relief funding provided by the government. In effect being punished for being too successful, the theatre now desperately needs £5m in order to reopen.
“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” the theatre explained to lawmakers.
Other theatres have already slipped into administration, we’re hoping that the government can see the huge benefit The Globe plays on the cultural life of London and the nation and step in to save The Globe.