COVID-19 advice for members working in theatre, live events and the arts

Minutes after the PM’s statement on the pandemic last night telling everyone to avoid pubs, clubs, restaurants and theatres – our venues started closing one by one – whether West End, regional or fringe. A very sad night indeed!

Given Italy’s total lock down and Broadway’s closure in America, Bectu reps and officials were aware this could happen and had already started discussions with SOLT and UKT to find creative ways to avoid a rush to simply close shows and lose staff. This is a crisis for theatre workers across the world and, sadly, there are no easy blueprints on the best way out of it!

It was unavoidable that, as public attendances dropped, the loss of ticket revenue would leave producers and venues (however previously successful) unable to pay the wages of staff because the money would eventually just run out. But SOLT and UKT had taken on board our suggestions about finding ways to continue your contracts until the theatres could reopen again. We argued for employees and workers to be treated equally and compassionately whatever the contract – permanent, casual, performance, freelance or zero hour. They promised us an official response at the end of this week so please sit tight until we can pass that response onto you.

We will keep you fully informed of any developments but, for now, please remember:

  • The SOLT/Bectu and UKT/Bectu agreements do not cover such extraordinary circumstances  with any applicable cancellation policy but there is a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice of closure of a production for employees.
  • Bectu can argue for minimum terms but don’t let that stop you trying to argue for better terms, employer by employer.
  • For those of you asking about insurance, in some cases employers may have taken out insurance for ‘acts of god’ or ‘force majeure’ but insurers are sure to be inundated by businesses going under and will be resisting paying out with any speed at all – if any insurance claim holds up, we suspect it will come through too late to help us.
  • Set up a WhatsApp group with all your present colleagues and keep in touch about local developments.
  • For queries, ideas and suggestions please contact your local Bectu rep.

You have already received Bectu’s advice on staying safe but here it is again:

You are not alone – the situation is changing every day so do keep in touch with your Bectu rep and colleagues.

More information soon!