With it seeming to be many months before Sadler’s Wells is likely to be welcoming audiences again, even socially-distanced ones if it can be made to work financially, the theatre has joined the ever-lengthening list of venues entering a consultation process on proposed organisational change and efficiency measures with its permanent and fixed term staff.
The theatre says that the proposals could put 51 permanent or fixed term roles at risk of redundancy or layoff, which represents 26% of its permanent and fixed term workforce. This is in addition to other measures the theatre has already taken and is taking to reduce costs.
According to executive director Britannia Morton, the coronavirus crisis has taken away 80% of Sadler’s Wells’ income. The organisation has certainly done all it can to prevent and delay the need for entering a consultation process. It has furloughed almost 90% of staff through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (which ends in October), reduced salaries across the organisation, and been successful in receiving a grant from the Arts Council of England’s Culture Recovery Fund, which secured survival until the end of October.
Moron hopes that Sadler’s Wells will be awarded a lifeline that allows it to stay afloat into 2021 through the UK Government’s arts, culture and heritage rescue package. However, with still no news on that as yet, action is needed now to ensure the survival of the organisation Wells and prepare it for the post-coronavirus future.
Artistic Director & CEO Alistair Spalding said: “In my 20 years at Sadler’s Wells and 15 years as its leader, the talent and dedication of our colleagues has been the cornerstone of every success and moment of magic on our stages and off. Every colleague at Sadler’s Wells has played their part in making Sadler’s Wells what it is today, and I am heartbroken that we have to embark on this process. We’ve searched long and hard to avoid having to take this course of action for as long as possible, but given the current situation, and in the face of continued uncertainty, it has become unavoidable.
“The impact of the global pandemic has been devastating for the arts – for organisations like Sadler’s Wells and for the many companies, freelancers and casual staff whose talent and skill is central to our industry. We are committed to doing all we can to play our role in rebuilding the sector, but recognise we can only do so if we get through the current crisis. I never imagined we would be in this position, but thank our colleagues for coming together as a community and for supporting each other as we all face this unprecedented challenge.’