Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre looks at making 65 percent of staff redundant

Last Updated on 2nd July 2020

Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre has revealed today that up to 65% of staff at the theatre may face redundancy as a result of COVID-19.

Interior of Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester
Interior of Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester

Management at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester has had to take this tough decision as a result of lack of government assistance in the hope it may allow them to re-open at some time in the future.

The theatre posted the following message:-

“The impact of Covid-19 on the Royal Exchange Theatre is monumental, and we have been working incredibly hard to ensure the survival and the future of our theatre.
The Royal Exchange is heavily reliant on the income earned through ticket sales, fundraising, food and drink and venue hire. Over recent years we have been successful in reducing our dependence on public subsidy, which now equates to less than 25% of our £10 million annual turnovers. As such, the impact of lockdown and our ability to operate commercially has been and will continue to be, considerable.

At the moment, we simply can’t trade, as live performances are not allowed in theatres. Even if we were allowed to open, whilst there are still social distancing measures in place, it is just not financially viable within our current structure. From the government’s recent announcements, there is nothing on the table which gives us confidence or clarity to be able to restart any activities in the immediate future.

As a direct result of this, and the dramatic loss of income associated with it, we have no other choice than to scale back the organisation and reduce our overheads in order to survive. This means that we have been forced to make the incredibly hard decision to enter a period of redundancy consultation with our staff. At the end of this period, we may have to make up to 65% of permanent roles redundant.

This is devastating and very painful. We have explored all other possible options and this is the last resort in protecting the future of the Royal Exchange Theatre.

The primary focus now is our duty of care to our staff. We have an incredible team of people who have shown enormous commitment and resilience. This is a very sad and difficult time for everyone involved.

As a Company, we remain committed to our vital role as a key cultural organisation for Greater Manchester, the North West and the national theatre ecology. We will emerge from this period as a different organisation in a very different landscape, but we are determined to deliver the best cultural experiences for our audiences and communities once more. And we will do our utmost to bring our stages back to life as soon as it is safe and economically possible, opening our spaces, inviting communities and presenting bold and inventive work from vibrant and original voices.”

Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester
Exterior of the Royal Exchange Building Manchester

Bryony Shanahan, Artistic Director, said “It’s been heart-breaking to come to the realisation that this is the action we have no choice but to take. Our staff are dedicated, talented, loyal and they don’t deserve this – and neither do the thousands of people in our industry who are facing job loss and uncertainty. It is an awful time for us all, and it’s also hugely frustrating that government support simply hasn’t reached us in time, despite clear warning signals and cries for help. Access to culture for all should not be a luxury but a right, and so we must value it as such as we heal and move forward from this time.”

The venue has vowed to be back as soon as they can.

The Royal Exchange joins the Theatre Royal Plymouth which regently announced redundancies.

Meanwhile, the #CanYouHearThePeopleSing protest will take place at Trafalgar Square on 11 July. Find out more here.

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