Almost 160 jobs at risk at the Royal Shakespeare Company

The charity has been losing millions of pounds of income a month because of enforced closure of its theatres under pandemic restrictions

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Photograph: Jane Ellis)
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Photograph: Jane Ellis)

Almost 160 roles are at risk at the Royal Shakespeare Company after the charity lost tens of millions of pounds of income because of the impact of coronavirus pandemic. 

The RSC said it was earning almost £2.8m a month at the box office, in addition to trading and philanthropic income, in February 2019. 

But Covid-19 meant that all RSC activity since March had been postponed or cancelled, so it had no audience and no means of generating income, the charity said in a statement.

“Since lockdown began, the RSC has furloughed 90 per cent of its staff and ended over 100 contracts with freelance artists and theatre-makers. 

“In short, we have stopped every piece of expenditure where we possibly can,” said the RSC.

A formal consultation has begun with 158 of the RSC’s workforce, company-recognised trade unions and staff representatives, and proposals also include changes in terms and conditions of employment. The charity employs about 1,200 people.

Through redeployment into existing and new roles, together with voluntary redundancy, the RSC said it hoped to reduce the number of people leaving the company through compulsory redundancy to less than 90.

The consultation is expected to conclude in early December.

The RSC said it would focus its programming in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford-upon-Avon over the coming year, with the nearby Swan Theatre and The Other Place remaining closed until 2022. 

Catherine Mallyon, executive director at the RSC, said the charity had to mdaake tough decisions to cut costs and ensure it could reopen with confidence.

“These are incredibly difficult times for everyone, and for the theatre community they are especially tough,” she said. 

“Our live performance sector is experiencing one of the highest levels of loss of work anywhere: the personal impact of this is often devastating.

“The loss of skilled and talented people permanently from our sector is a very real worry for the future, and the impact on the nation’s economy immense.”

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