Bectu urges Government to support freelance workers as theatre bookings collapse in face of Omicron

16 December 2021

Following a wave of theatre cancellations and show closures Bectu has written to the Chancellor, urging him to provide urgent support for the industry to prevent a jobs crisis.In recent days, the Omicron wave has caused a growing number of theatres and live events to cancel performances, alongside reports of a large downturn in bookings. Government messages to reduce social interaction without any financial support for the sector or workers risks adding a jobs crisis to a public health pandemic.

The impact of cancellations and risks of further restrictions will directly impact theatre workers, including many freelance workers who are unlikely to benefit from any wider support for business. Many of these workers are the same ones who were excluded from support earlier in the pandemic.

We are calling on the Chancellor to work with us to support the creative industries and, if the need should arise, bring in sector specific furlough to ensure self-employed and freelance workers are supported.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:

“We now face a New Year theatre crisis with a lack of leadership from government, a rising wave of Omicron cases and an anxious public. This started as a public health crisis but it could quickly become a jobs crisis as well.

“We applauded the work the Treasury carried out last year when it declared that “nobody will be left without hope”. Yet many self-employed workers were excluded from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and other measures provided by government.”

“With the recent tightening of COVID restrictions there has been little commentary on the significant impact these will have on self-employed workers working in Theatres and Live Events. Bectu is concerned that self-employed workers again appear to be at the back of the queue when it comes to planning for any further financial disruption to our everyday lives.

“We need to give business stability and the support for the creative industries to be open and trading safely, but we must also contemplate what happens if the government imposes restrictions that actually or effectively closes them.”

Read our joint letter to the Chancellor from Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect and Philippa Childs, Head of Bectu.