• Jane Gonin


Photo of Pantomine Dames on the march. GETTY IMAGES.


Last Wednesday, the 30th September Bectu, (Broadcasting, entertainment, communications, and theatre union) who represents the workers of the entertainment and media industries organised a Panto parade from Cambridge Circus to Parliament Square.

The reason was to bring to the attention of the government their poor decision making and support of the arts, theatre and live events during the Covid 19 crisis.

The £1.57 million that was promised to help support the institutions has still not been distributed.

The industries are greatly supported by many thousands of freelancers, a lot of whom have not been entitled to the SEISS and have had no other financial support from government organisations.

Now with the cancellation of the annual Panto season when many of thousands people have a fantastic festive experience of fun, musical and over the top design experiences, theatres production companies and the treasury are set to lose millions of pounds which contribute to the planning and execution of the spring and summer seasons for theatres around the country and in London.

These entertainment industries contribute so much to the nation’s culture and economy.

We have exceptional talent in this country and we always pass on the very best qualities of our trade to those who are coming into the industry and nurture and care for those who have worked for years securing the world renown reputation we have built up for many years.

Theatre is the facility that provides the perfect environment for people who have studied the many elements of this industry at colleges and universities, to further develop their craft which then takes them to the film and TV industry. Production companies are building studios to take advantage of the fantastic talent we have here.

In the community, theatres provide entertainment for all tastes, from musicals to history plays to drama to comedies.

We provide vital resources to educate people but also to children who, when they come and see something they are studying, can connect and see the lesson in a totally different light.

These vital services should not be lost but given extra help to reach out to even more people in the communities that especially at this time are looking for light relief from the pressures this country is under not just from the Covid Virus but the strain that people will endure under Brexit and the uncertainty that will bring too.

During the recession that started in 2008 the population maintained their love of theatre and kept going to see the most amazing shows that were produced in the West End and in the regions. And until the lock down they were still going strong. We have returned this loyalty, by making theatre accessible to all sections of society with many cheap seats, by providing organised ticket allocation procedures, so that the biggest most popular productions can be seen quickly rather waiting years to get seats.

We have invented the system where theatre has been seen in cinemas with NTlive productions, bringing top quality productions to audiences all over the country and again this has gone all over the world.

Finally, I would like to point out that since lock down we have all worked incredibly hard to keep the population's spirits high by screening fantastic productions live online. There has been serious plays, comedies, operas, ballets and musicals. We were the very first to see that there was a great opportunity in getting DRIVE-IN productions organised and cinemas have followed our example.

We really do our best to overcome our difficulties and give to the communities we serve. We listen to the needs and demands of those who love us and are loyal to us but also work hard to keep new audiences becoming enthralled with our work.

But we also value those of you who support us through government subsidies and grants. We couldn't do what we do without you and we truly hope that you can see that we are really worth the value we give back to the country.

Sam Mendes put forward a scheme to justify investment in the theatre industry from the government. Thousands have signed petitions and we are incredibly grateful for the response the government gave by allocating the funds they have.

We need to have the funding to come through quickly, so that buildings and those people working in them can plan and survive and those people who have not been able to maintain a reasonable living during this difficult time can obtain financial help.

Please help us to help others to continue to thrive now and in the future.


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