MAY 2020: To be or not to be…

At the time of writing the COVID-19 pandemic continues to raise more questions with each daily news briefing. The future of theatres, concert halls and touring venues hang in the balance as we wait to see how long lockdown lasts and the longer-lasting effects on our industry. The question is, do we exist if we don’t perform?

Recent discussions among IAMA and Opera Europa members indicate that organisations in Europe are starting to plan for a socially-distanced return to rehearsal and performance. Such plans are some way off in the UK however.

Even when restrictions are sufficiently relaxed, and if seating plans were re-designed with 2m social distancing in mind, what would be the economic viability should theatres reduce audience capacity to that extent? And of course the practicality of social-distancing at performance start, end and interval break? That’s not to mention reduced audience confidence returning to theatres and concert halls.

Furthermore, artists now have limited travel options, with associated quarantine rules making international travel less feasible. Many existing contracts have been cancelled under Force Majeure or postponed until future seasons…which themselves are being rearrangd and repackaged.

Should artists not be available for alternative dates offered, it seems that the next few years will continue to remain uncertain, until testing and tracking become more sophisticated and, more crucially, some form of vaccine is developed. Only then might audiences return to live performance and artists, orchestras, chorus, creatives and technicians safely rehearse and perform. No doubt our audiences will need us then more that ever before!

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