UK Government Green Lights Outdoor Performances

By Logan Martell

On July 11, 2020, performing arts venues in England will be able to hold outdoor performances with a socially-distanced audience.

The announcement was made by culture secretary Oliver Dowden, who earlier in the week had also announced a rescue package for the arts industry of 1.57 billion pounds, said to be the largest single donation to the arts in the country’s history.

At the press conference, Dowden said, “As I’ve seen for myself at the Royal Academy this morning, the National Gallery and as we’ll see shortly from the National Museums Liverpool, our cultural institutions are beginning to welcome back visitors. I’m really urging people to get out there and to play their part, buy the tickets for outdoor plays and music recitals, get to your local gallery, and support your local businesses.”

While this benefits outdoor performance spaces such as Glyndebourne, the Minack Theatre, and Shakespeare’s Globe, many industry leaders were left wanting for a more tangible date as to when they can begin to reopen indoor venues. According to Dowden, trial performances will be taking place in certain venues to assess when they can admit people in a capacity large enough to make reopening economically viable.

Dowden also announced that the government will be changing certain rules in place regarding vacant theaters in order to protect them from being demolished or repurposed, noting, “Our culture, heritage, and arts are too precious to lose. That’s why we’re protecting venues like theatres from redevelopment if they fall on hard times.”