The performing arts are battling for survival at a time when theatre matters more than ever. It’s not only the West End, the annual panto, world-class musicals, dance, opera and Shakespeare – it’s the creative and outreach work happening around the country in our diverse communities, outdoors, in pop-up spaces, at festivals and online.

Theatre tackles contemporary issues head-on. With Black Lives Matter stirring our national consciousness, theatre can play a critical role, inside and outside the sector, in challenging, educating and informing.

Theatre is a national success story, vital to Britain’s economic prosperity. Theatre attracted 34 million visitors last year, employs 300,000, promotes tourism; and generates huge tax revenues, including VAT of £130m in London alone.

Our industry depends on the £1.3 billion of annual ticket sales which has now disappeared, with disastrous effects on companies, employees and freelancers. Even with a 1 metre social distancing rule we could only fill around 25% of our seats – not a financially viable option.

Without immediate and substantial support, theatres and performing arts companies will inevitably close and tens of thousands of artistic careers will be cut short.

We urge readers to lobby Government and parliamentarians and join our fight for the survival of UK theatre.

Dame Margaret Hodge, Chair, Theatre Royal Stratford East
Glenn Earle, Chair, Young Vic
Robert Delamere, Chair, ETT
Ben Monks, Chair, Deafinitely Theatre
Geraldine Brodie, Chair, Actors Touring Company
Dame Joan Ruddock, Chair, The Albany Deptford
Luke Johnson, Chair, Almeida Theatre
Amanda Parker, Chair, artsdepot
Chris Lawrence, Chair, Blue Elephant Theatre
Charles Glanville, Chair, Boundless Theatre
Simon Millson, Chair, British Youth Music Theatre
Simon Johnson, Chair, Bush Theatre
Kate McGrath and Isobel Colchester, Co-Chairs, Camden People’s Theatre
Prue Skene, Chair, Cardboard Citizens
Richard Philipps, Chair, Cheek By Jowl
David Micklem, Chair, Chris Goode and Company
Kim Evans, Chair, Clean Break
Lucy Davies, Chair, Clod Ensemble
Vicki Busfield, Chair, CoDa Dance Company
Benjamin Yeoh, Chair, Coney
Catherine Rowan, Chair, Culture & Libraries Committee, Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure
Lord Browne of Madingley, Chair, Donmar
Áine Duffy, Chair, Duckie
Dana Kohava Segal, Chair, Emergency Exit Arts
Dr Harry Brunjes, Chair, English National Opera & London Coliseum
Mark Beddy, Chair, English Touring Opera
Mark Hawes, Chair, Frantic Assembly
Sean Egan, Chair, Fuel
Sarah Howard, Chair, Graeae Theatre Company
Kevin Walton, Chair, Green Shoes Arts
Delphine Brand, Chair, Hackney Empire
Dawn Harrison-Wallace, Chair, Half Moon Theatre
David Tyler, Chair, Hampstead Theatre
Donna Munday, Chair, Headlong
Melissa Butcher, Chair, Immediate Theatre
Natasha Freedman, Chair, Improbable Theatre
Dawn Austwick, Chair, Kiln
Bernard Donoghue, Chair, LIFT
Joseph Seelig OBE, Chair, London International Mime Festival
Lisa Burger, Chair, Lyric Hammersmith
Jodi Myers, Chair, Musical Theatre Network
Sir Damon Buffini, Chair, National Theatre
Charlotte Mooney, Ockham’s Razor
Lisa Mead, Chair, Oily Cart
Nick Clarry, Chair, The Old Vic
Charlie Thompson, Chair, Out of Joint
Kim Grant, Chair, Paines Plough
Sarah King, Chair, Polka Theatre for Children
James Freedman, Chair, Punchdrunk
Simon Turner, Chair, The Roundhouse
Anthony Burton CBE, Chair, The Royal Court Theatre
Lady Heywood, acting Chair, Royal Opera House
Nigel Higgins, Chair, Sadler’s Wells
Dr Margaret Casely-Hayford CBE, Chair, Shakespeare’s Globe
Heather Rabbatts, Chair, Soho Theatre
Michelle Smith, Chair, Spare Tyre
Robin Saphra, Chair, Stagetext
Georgina Philippou, Chair, Stratford Arts Trust
Karen West-Whylie, Chair, Studio 3 Arts
Deepa Patel, Chair, Tamasha Theatre Company
Sunita Pandya, Chair, Tara Arts
Gareth Hughes, Chair, Theatre Centre
Sioban Whitney Low, Chair, Theatre Peckham
Elizabeth Lynch MBE, Chair, Theatre-Rites
Sophie Scott, Chair, Told by an Idiot
John Langley, Chair, Unicorn Theatre
Jonathan Meth, Chair, Vital Xposure
Nick Starr CBE, Chair, Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick
Wai Mun Yoon, Chair, Yellow Earth Theatre Company

 

The Chairs’ letter was originally shared by Theatre Royal Stratford East on 24th June 2020.

Group photo from Pullen's Party Creative Lab in June 2018. Six actors-participants are marching towards the viewer, holding each other's hands in solidarity and with determination. Behind them, the replica of Pullen's giant puppet.

Photo credit: JulieMc

Since March 2020, we have all been searching and sharing information on support available during the pandemic.  We have collated a list of links that you may find useful.

As we are coming out of the lockdown period,  we will continue to update the information below towards a regular Resources section on our website. You will therefore start noticing links that go beyond  support to deal with the impact of COVID-19.

Your contributions and feedback are always welcome.

 

General Guidance by Arts Council England

  • A full list of emergency funds and resources for the arts sector. Read more.
  • Government advice for organisations. Read more.
  • Government advice for individuals: Read more.

Fundraising

  • Grants Online have publicised a list of new funding programmes in response to COVID-19 which are available across the UK. Read more.
  • Arts Fundraising have collated information on how major funders are adapting to support the charity sector through the pandemic. Read more.
  • The London Funders network have launched the London Community Response scheme to support civil society groups. Read more.

Further support and resources

  • A comprehensive list of links, resources and funding support available for disabled artists by Unlimited. Read more.
  • A list of Deaf charities supporting Deaf groups and professionals during the pandemic, compiled by Limping Chicken. Read more.
  • ITC has created the CoVid-19 Alphabet with useful information for organisations and freelancers. Read more.
  • Equity’s briefing provides guidance to its member on financial support available and how to claim it. Read more.
  • UK Theatres and the Society for London Theatres (SOLT) have created a dedicated website with details of different types of support for theatre professionals. Read more.
  • The Arts Marketing Association has put together a list of additional support available here.
  • Useful resources for freelance creatives and artists, compiled by fellow arts professionals. Read more.
  • An open source spreadsheet with information on upcoming free and paid opportunities for theatre professionals, collated by Part of the Main Theatre. View the list here.
  • BSL Zone provide regular updates on COVID-19 in British Sign Language via their website. Read more and view videos.
  • The weekly E-Digest by Artsadmin contains information on opportunities, artists’ commissions and further resources. Read more.
  • The resources available by the Production Services Association (PSA) may be of interest to anyone working in the live event production industry. Read more.
  • Drake Music has published a user-friendly guide on accessibility for video conferencing and remote meetings. Read more.
  • An interesting and informative article on captioning for remote meetings, published by The Limping Chicken. Read more.
  • #BlackLivesMatter: Decolonise the English and Drama Classroom. Read more.
  • #BlackLivesMatter: Anti-racism resources. Read more.

Training and information

  • The Space are supporting artists and arts organisations to develop their online and digital practices. Read more.
  • Stagetext have created a six-part online training on Digital Subtitling. Read more.
  • Theatre Means Business is a series of digital resources for theatre professionals, created by UK Theatres and SOLT. Read more.
  • Charity Digital offer a range of webinars and resources to support registered charities and their staff during the pandemic. Read more.
  • Little Gog launched a Disabled Artist’s Guide To Creating An Artist Access Statement. Read more.

Community and solidarity

  • #WeShallNotBeRemoved, a UK disability arts alliance formed as an emergency response to the pandemic. Join the campaign.
  • Disability Arts Online are hosting online social gatherings every Friday at 4.30pm, a chance to meet and feel connected. Click here to find out more.
  • UK Theatre Industry – Coronavirus Support, a public Facebook group dedicated to the performing arts sector, sharing advice and tips. Click here to find out more.

 

The Vital Xposure team is also here for a chat, keep in touch with us and stay safe.

 

Note: the group photo at the top of this article is from Pullen’s Party Creative Lab in June 2018, which was supported by 101 – Outdoor Arts Creation Space. The photo features (from left to right): Emma Selwyn, Tricia Hitchcok, Eden West, Angela de Castro, Adam Smith

 

A Word from our Artistic Director

 

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and afraid.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down the dulcimer. Let the beauty we love be what we do…

I love this poem by Jelalludin Rumi, 12th century mystical poet. It does have a final line: ‘There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground’, but as an unbaptised bastard child of a recovering Catholic, I will NEVER genuflect again.

Art is powerful, it opens our hearts and minds, our creative endeavours forge connections when we are losing our way. Our art is our creative heart, the vital pulse of our being in the world. We, at Vital Xposure, are currently working online to plan our next creative endeavours and will soon offer you all an update when we are ready for public consumption. The arts and culture we are turning to in this challenging time, while we fill our days in isolation, provide us with far more than frivolities, they provide us with meaning.

Nietzsche once wrote:

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how

Right now, it is so vital to find ways to stay sane, to nourish ourselves, and our loved ones, and to support our communities. Some of us are becoming more fragile by the day, bombarded with a tsunami of messages about the value of our lives in the world. If you are disabled or have a long-term health condition, step back. Sign that DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and allow the beleaguered frontline workers of the NHS some room to save the fittest amongst us. Are we truly back here – ‘Survival of the Fittest’? Only ‘save those who stand the best chance of recovery’ i.e. the most productive for the future of our Capitalist economy. If you, like many of us in Disability Arts, fall into the category of the most vulnerable to this Coronavirus, please do not feel left alone, left behind or erased. Every life matters. You matter!

Channel 4 broadcast a letter of hope, delivered by Doctor Matt Morgan from the critical care team at University Hospital Wales, Cardiff, he said: “It must be so hard listening to endless news reports that end with ‘don’t worry, this illness mainly affects the elderly, frail, vulnerable, or those with serious underlying health conditions. What if that is you..?
We have not forgotten about you…” he went on to promise that the team alongside him would offer care to everyone in need. It was a bold and beautiful message of hope filled with compassion, and the first time somebody had publically acknowledged the psychological impact of some of the messages continually pumping out of the media.

Dr Matt Morgan’s full letter can be accessed here.

Audrey Lorde once said:

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

So let’s make a commitment to ourselves, so that we are ready to do what needs to be done for those of our friends and comrades who are in need of more support. Leave no one behind!

We may have closed Vital Xposure’s office temporarily, but we have not closed our hearts and minds. We have had to abandon our tour, but we are not abandoning you, our friends and supporters.

This too will pass. Try to find a moment of joy in each and every day. The air is cleaner, the plants and animals recovering. Most of us will do so too. Please look after your selves and do keep in touch. Never give up!

 

With love and hopes for great happenings,

JulieMc and team at Vital Xposure

 

Greatest hope!

The cast of Medicine’s Monstrous Daughters has moved from the rehearsal room onto Zoom.

Earlier this month they shared their greatest hopes for this show and they captured them in a screenshot, which is shown at top of this article.  We are sharing below everyone’s greatest hope for Medicine’s Monstrous Daughters:

 

Larger audience.

Shereener Browne, Actor – Role: Elaine / Elsie

 

To show my family NOT to be scared.

My body CAN do amazing things with the right SUPPORT.

Lisette Auton, Actor – Role: Mad Mary

 

Working alongside new people and making friends, new and old!

Eden West, Actor, Role: Walter Riddle

 

Share the very real and lived experience of those in the mental health space.

Fatima Niemogha, Actor – Role: Kem

 

Showing it to audiences and seeing their reactions. Hoping it might help some people’s understanding of mental health.

Becky Brown, Stage Manager

 

Julie McNamara made a sketch of Shereener and Fatima with Omikemi, writer of ‘Medicine’ in rehearsal. The drawing represents the hope to realise Omikemi’s unique, extraordinary poetic voice on stage.

 

Useful links and resources

In the past weeks, we have all been searching and sharing information on support available during the pandemic. From emergency funds and resources on working remotely, to ideas how to create and present work online. We have collated a list of links that you may find useful. Feel free to share the list and send us any news that may be of interest to our friends and community. You can view the list here.