York Theatre Royal boss ‘devastated’ as job losses announced

YORK Theatre Royal is to make some of its staff redundant to ensure its survival in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The theatre said in a statement that, ‘like so many theatres around the country,’ it was entering into consultations with staff that would ‘regrettably lead to some redundancies.’

It did not clarify how many jobs were at risk.

It said the theatre had been unable to open its doors for performances since March 17 and, despite the Government allowing the return of socially-distanced performances from August 1, its survival would depend on it reducing costs significantly.

It said 89 per cent of its annual income was generated through selling tickets and from revenue streams associated with welcoming audiences.

“A recent grant from the Arts Council England Emergency Fund supports the theatre to September 30, and no details have yet been announced of how the £1.57bn government relief package for cultural institutions will be distributed,” it added.

Executive director Tom Bird said the people of York had ‘enjoyed, supported and celebrated’ the theatre since 1744. 

“It is our job, as custodians of this great community asset, to do whatever we can to ensure its survival for the people of our city,” he said.

“All of the leadership team have taken big pay cuts, and we have maximised our use of government schemes.

“It is devastating to me that in the coming weeks we are going to have to make some very difficult decisions.

“But the theatre can survive this and we will make sure that, when we are able to re-open our doors, York Theatre Royal will come roaring back with an epic programme to help re-energise our community’s creativity.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of people who are donating to the theatre at this time, as a result of our heightened fundraising messages. This is making a real difference.”

He said donations to the theatre could be made online via the theatre’s website: www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

The news comes just days after Mr Bird said he was keeping his options open as to whether the theatre might be able to stage its usual panto next Christmas, following the Prime Minister’s surprise announcement that theatres were being allowed to reopen, subject to social distancing.

He said that just because theatres were permitted to open, this did not necessarily mean it was viable, and a decision would need to be made over the panto by next month.

York Press | News