Think tank Out To Perform and the Coalition for Open Air Theatre have sent an open letter to Culture Secretary State Oliver Dowden asking for the small-scale outdoor performing arts to be allowed to lead the sector’s return to live performance.
As the rapid dispersal of the virus in the open air makes this a Covid-safer environment than indoor auditoria, the two organisations and many high profile industry professionals are calling on the government to let this segment of the performing arts, which has the lowest risk of virus transmission, lead the national cultural revival and reopen after lockdown ends.
Whilst the media attention focuses on the major summer festivals, the scale, style and long lead-times of these events makes it unlikely that they can take place: but the letter points out that smaller scale and more local outdoor events could still go ahead.
It envisages that events could have a capacity of around 500 people and controlled seating, where social distancing could be most easily managed between household bubbles.
Signatories to the letter are hoping to engage in a dialogue with the government to put plans in place for this to happen.
The Government’s policy of allowing outdoor performances to restart in July 2020 following the first lockdown is estimated to have enabled 500,000 people able to attend small-scale events, generating around £7m in revenue.
Data from Indigo Audience research suggests people will be more prepared to attend outdoor performances in all seasons and weather than in previous years due to cultural starvation.