Birmingham REP Theatre announces job losses in wake of coronavirus economic impact
The Birmingham Repertory Theatre has announced the venue could be forced to cut 47 jobs following the ongoing business impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The warning of job redundancies, which would be around 40% of the theatre’s workforce, came despite an emergency package from the government for the arts sector.
Last week, the REP’s Artistic Director Sean Foley welcomed a £1.5bn emergency package, which included assisting the theatre. But the establishment has said it had already lost 80% of its income, leaving its current business model as “unsustainable”.
In a new statement issued by the venue, management officials said it was with “great sadness” they they had “entered a period of redundancy consultations”.
“Since 16 March 2020, The REP has effectively been unable to trade. As the theatre generates 80% of its income from selling tickets and associated revenue streams, the ongoing loss of earned income is unsustainable.
“Despite the very welcome news earlier this week of the Government’s support package for the cultural sector, and Arts Council England’s emergency funds that partially mitigate our current losses, the reality for The REP is that we simply do not know when we will be able to re-open our doors and welcome audiences back into our building to enjoy live theatre again in a way that is safe for the public and financially viable for the theatre.
“Therefore, in order to ensure the survival of The REP during this time of great uncertainty, cost saving measures including redundancy proposals are being considered which may impact up to 40% of roles.
Located in Centenary Square, the theatre has operated for over a hundred years and is the longest-established of Britain’s building-based theatre companies, having helped launch the careers of talent the likes of Laurence Olivier, Derek Jacobi, Michael Gambon, Brian Cox, Peggy Ashcroft and Riz Ahmed.
Executive Director Rachael Thomas, and Artistic Director Sean Foley, added:
“Our role as custodians of this much-loved theatre, with its historic legacy, is to ensure that it survives the COVID-19 pandemic. Even after the new measures are taken into account, we believe that survival is threatened if we do not act now. We could still be facing many months of being unable to trade and must therefore take action to mitigate the loss of income by reducing our costs.
“Whilst we are prioritising our work in creative learning, community engagement, and our wider civic mission during this time, this re-organisation will protect the DNA of The REP as a producing theatre.
“We are incredibly proud of the way our staff have responded to the COVID-19 crisis and want to thank them for their fortitude and spirit at this most difficult of times. We recognise and applaud all those that have volunteered – or are volunteering – in our community to support the NHS or those who are vulnerable in our society.
“We are confident that The REP will be able to continue to make a key contribution to the civic and cultural renaissance of Birmingham over the next few years.
“We intend to return – when trading conditions permit – and play our full part in the cultural life of this great city and the nation, including the Company’s 50th anniversary in its current home on Centenary Square in Autumn ’21 and The Commonwealth Games ’22.”