Welsh Theatre: Fans awaiting New Years re-opening may have little to cheer

Welsh theatres may open in the next few months but not for live shows, says Wales Millennium Centre employee

audience with a stage in front
No live shows on New Years in Wales Millennium Centre. Credit: Wales Millennium Centre

The Welsh theatre fans might have to go without live performances longer than New Years due to COVID-19 challenges & government aid that came too late. 

Theatres might open doors in April instead of January (permitted reopening date). Issues like smaller staff, COVID-19 related logistics issues, and government aid that came later than needed have made full capacity shows a distant reality. Many freelancers are still left without aid from this fund, said actress Georgina White.

WMC’s Social Media Manager Jack Tilson said, “In my estimate, theatre doors may open in April. But, that does not mean shows. Shows might start in May but that doesn’t mean at full capacity. Full capacity might happen in June-July. A lot depends on how the vaccine works really.”

Jack Tilson estimates lives performances in May, depending on vaccine situation. Credit: Jack Tilson

He said that as COVID-19 and logistics challenges faced by troupes travelling from one region to another continues, it is hard for theatres to open their doors to audience for ‘live performances’ any time soon.

Government aid coming later than required, is a notable cause that has led to issues that are leading to delayed opening, and curtains falling permanently over some stages, say theatre personalities.

Tilson said, “It’s not a very good time for arts. It’s not a very good time for theatre, in particular. Wales received £59 million as aid from Westminster but it came too late in the day. The delay added to the (unfortunate) situation for some theatres.”

Georgina White said, “The government investment in the arts was certainly long due but unfortunately this has come too late in certain cases. However, with the aid and efforts by Arts Council of Wales, I can’t wait to see what the creatives of Cardiff come up with next.”

people practicing in theatre
WMC’s radio community projects might have suffered without government aid. Credit: WMC

Tilson said, “ A major thing I don’t think is being highlighted, especially where Westminster is concerned, is that they’re overlooking freelancers, and that’s not just in the theatre industry that’s across every industry in the UK, freelancers are finding it very hard to access low and sometimes any sort of financial support.”

WMC is estimated to have lost about £20 million this year in ticket sales and received about £3.9 million from the aid provided to Wales. Without the funding, training of new people in arts that WMC carries out would have been negatively impacted, said Tilson.

Georgina White finds government aid came far too late in certain cases. Image Credit: Lauren Jennings

White said, “I’ve not set foot in a theatre since March. Live performances are the beating heart of theatres; it is how and why they exist. The effect of closure of theatres on performing arts is devastating. We need our government to continue their vital support as the Arts are such an essential part of our culture and heritage. I’ll be counting my blessings the next time I set foot on stage.”