Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Strong Theatre Advocacy: Lorne Campbell, Louise Miles-Payne, Julia Barry, Arwel Gruffydd

Radio Arts Feature

Call for Welsh Government Roadmap for Theatre , Radio Wales Arts Show , November 13, 2020
Radio Arts Feature by Call for Welsh Government Roadmap for Theatre Japan was not quite as fast as other countries of its region in staunching the spread of Coronavirus-19. But the country had an advantage in a unique location for study.

The cruise liner “Diamond Princess”, awash with infection, was stranded in harbour. Already in March the government of Japan was warning its citizens against the 3C's: closed spaces, crowded spaces and close-contact spaces.

The image here was widely circulated in the break between lockdowns and stood for the disjunction in public policy.

At the time of writing the UK's highest infection rate is in Merthyr. Theatr Soar is padlocked while the clubs of Ibiza were free of any restriction. Cinemas may open this week in Wales and theatres may not.

Response from theatre-makers has been robust. A press release was issued by Creu Cymru. From Louise Miles-Payne:

“THEATRES ARE STILL UNABLE TO OPEN IN WALES

“Creu Cymru represents the theatre sector in Wales, and whilst we completely understand the need for restrictions on activity across cultural activities during this current firebreak and the Government’s focus on protecting public health, we believe that our vital community assets may be put further at risk if we are unable to open after the current restrictions end, in line with other comparable venues, such as cinemas.

...We understand that hospitality venues will be able to reopen, with additional measures in place, and that many community buildings will be able to host events for 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

“It means comparable venues such as cinemas can open whilst theatres could not. It also could mean that small-scale community events could take place, but not small-scale events in well-planned and professionally run spaces such as theatre and we believe it would be unjustifiable if theatres could not open in similar circumstances.”

Lorne Campbell was a guest on Radio Wales Arts Show 6th November.

“It's deeply disappointing that cinemas, museums, galleries are being allowed to open and theatres are not. A huge amount of careful and rigorous work has gone on in organisations across the country in order to open venues safely.

"Test events have been run. Incredibly careful thinking and preparation has been made and I think at this point it's really unjust and unjustifiable that we're not being able to move towards reopening and wholeheartedly join colleagues across the country is calling for a clear road-map from Welsh Government to look at what are the conditions under which we are going to be able to reopen.

"This is partly about the health and vitality of the industry, partly about getting freelancers back into work. It's also the really critical societal function of theatre, bringing people together, encouraging well-being, dealing with some of the big questions of isolation and loneliness that people are going through in the pandemic.”

Radio Wales Arts Show at:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000p0hk

Postscript: BBC Wales in print is also reporting:

Arwel Gruffydd, artistic director of Theatr Genedlaethol:

"I could put a coffee morning on in a village hall for 15 people but we couldn't put a performance in a theatre with one person on the stage and 14 people in the audience. Where's the sense in that? We're just asking the government to be reasonable in a way that makes amends for this. We don't feel the Welsh Government is being fair with us.

"If you think what theatre gives to people - the joy it brings people, the sense of belonging, to have conversations about matters of importance on stage and in the foyer. Imagine how valuable that would be in these times of all times. We're just asking the government to allow us to do that bit by bit."

Julia Barry at the Sherman:

"We know that we are not going to be able to reopen in the way we were operating at the start of this year. We would like to be able to start putting in place test events.

"We could bring a small audience in to this auditorium which ordinarily can sit 452 people, but if we could bring 40 or 50 people in to trial a test event with all of those safety measures in place then it's a start on that journey to reopening."

A Welsh Government spokesman said:

"We understand this is a very difficult time for the sector and we will continue to work in partnership towards a safe reopening when the time is right.”

"When the time is right..." A sentence that says nothing.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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