Theatre Royal Plymouth confirms more than 100 jobs at risk

The Theatre Royal Plymouth has confirmed that more that 100 jobs are at risk as the theatre struggles to survive in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Theatre Royal Plymouth
Theatre Royal Plymouth

Plymouth Theatre Royal saw most of its income reserves wiped out by the Coronavirus theatre lockdown.

The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union (BECTU) began redundancy consultations on 22 June. Redundancy plans may involve almost a third of the charity’s staff.

Adrian Vinken, chief executive of TRP, said: “With the Government’s furlough scheme finishing in October and no guarantee about when and how we can safely open our doors, our already depleted funds will be under increasing pressure in the coming months.
“This is compounded by research predicting a reduction in audience numbers when we do reopen, meaning that we’ll have to weather a significant drop in revenue even then – a situation that could last for 12 months or more.

“Together these factors have led us to the very painful but unavoidable conclusion that we must reduce our workforce in order to try to protect TRP for the future.”

Bectu official Kevin Carson said: “Bectu has developed a positive working relationship with TRP in helping the company become a Real Living Wage employer last year.

“Although this announcement about potential redundancies is worrying news, we understand that TRP have similar concerns for their survival as do most other theatres across the country. We will work with TRP to ensure the long-term future for the organisation and our members’ jobs.”

Like most venues around the country. the Theatre Royal Plymouth currently has most of its workforce furloughed.

Plymouth Theatre Royal
Interior of the Plymouth Theatre Royal

Mr Vinken said: “We have done everything we could to protect the jobs and incomes of our loyal workforce for as long as possible. This includes continuing to pay our casual staff members when most companies terminated contracts back in March.

“We have also honoured all contracts with creative freelancers working on the shows that we were due to produce despite their cancellation.”

Nick Buckland, TRP’s chair of trustees, said “We continue to play a visible role in lobbying Government for additional support for the creative sector to emphasise the very real challenges theatres like TRP face and the impact closure will have on local communities.
“Without ticket sales or the furlough scheme we will very quickly run out of money – it’s why we’ve had to propose redundancies and plan to reduce activity in order to cut overheads and buy TRP a few more months of precious time.”

Mr Vinken said “The commitment of the whole organisation during this very challenging time has been exceptional particularly the moving gesture by those still working to volunteer a 20% reduction in pay.

“TRP’s excellent reputation in the industry and the fierce level of public support it enjoys has been built over many years and is a testament to the quality of our people.

“It’s heartbreaking that what was a thriving organisation worth more than £40million annually to the local economy just weeks ago has been forced to implement redundancies to safeguard the future.

“It’s a terribly sad outcome for such loyal and capable staff – but a regrettable and inevitable result of the ongoing crisis.”

Plymouth Theatre Royal
Plymouth Theatre Royal

Though an opening date for TRP has yet to be confirmed, productions in 2020 remain on sale including the Christmas pantomime Aladdin. Book Aladdin tickets here.

Mr Vinken said “The best way to support TRP is to continue donating, purchasing gift vouchers or booking tickets for the future as normal – safe in the knowledge that if we are able to open you’ll have a fantastic time and, if the show has to be cancelled, you’ll get a full refund.”

No final decision on redundancies will be made until the consultation process is complete, TRP said. Companies looking to recruit staff are asked to contact TRP via [email protected] with any available opportunities which will be circulated to all those effected.


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