Performing art venues across Scotland are calling for a relaxation of planned social distancing reopening rules.
In Level 2, theatres, cinemas and other entertainment venues are permitted to reopen for the first time this year. However, venues planning to reopen must allow for more than two metres social distancing between guests.
The uncertainty in the sector, which has no clear route-map of when social distancing requirements may be lifted, is making it difficult for venues to plan.
Eleven of Scotland’s leading performing arts venues, with the Federation of Scottish Theatre (FST), are calling on the Scottish Government to “urgently” review the social distancing requirements.
In a recent survey conducted by the FST 96% of its members responded that it is not economically viable for them to reopen with the planned social distancing requirements.
Eden Court’s chief executive, James Mackenzie-Blackman, explained: “The impact of operating with two metre plus means that a meaningful restart for our sector is almost impossible. The Federation of Scottish Theatre surveyed its members and 96% of them said that it would be economically unviable for us to reopen whilst social distancing remains at this level.
“Just to give you an example of my own venue here in Inverness I can normally seat just under 900 people in my main house auditorium. Under the current guidance I can seat no more than around 148.”
Meanwhile His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen can normally hold 1,491 people will only be able to seat 193 which is 17% of it’s capacity.
The Scottish Theatre Producing Consortium – which includes Eden Court and Aberdeen Performing Arts – has appealed to the Scottish Government for emergency funding for venues if the sector should remain closed.
Mr Mackenzie-Blackman believes that reducing social distancing measures to one metre would make a significant difference. From Monday hospitality businesses will be allowed to operate with one metre social distancing between tables.
“We think that doesn’t make any sense, and we want to work with government to ensure we can support community recovery,” he added “our buildings are not just performing arts venues, we are vital cogs in our communities.”