Unions and theatre sector trade bodies unite in call for a government backed insurance scheme

20 July 2021

Bectu has joined the Society of London Theatre, UK Theatre, Equity and the Musicians Union to call on the government to finally provide government-backed insurance for live events and theatres. Without this backing, the culture sector will continue to be hit with closures and be unable to reopen safely and successfully.

empty theatre seats

Over the past year, the sector has provided evidence to DCMS about the benefits of a government backed insurance scheme and how it will aid the UK recovery. Such a scheme would provide events and venues with the necessary security blanket to confidently plan ahead and work as a critical safety net should Covid restrictions impact future shows, as we are already seeing.

Commercial insurers are clear that Covid interruption insurance will not be available until at least late 2022. Without a scheme, live events and theatres are faced with a choice – either take on the huge economic risk of organising performances without insurance or continue to remain closed.

This is no choice at all for small and medium sized businesses without the financial backing of some of the larger commercial groups, though they too are facing serious hardship as we come towards the end of a second lost summer.

Through government discussions, the industry has been informed that an insurance scheme would only be offered once the restrictions in the UK had been lifted. Now that the last existing restrictions have been removed, we are no closer to a workable scheme that can be successfully implemented.

SOLT and UK Theatre have estimated that without insurance, the theatre sector will operate at 35-50% below 2019 levels, with a direct impact on both the national economy and local economies that rely on cultural events to attract footfall. For a workforce of which 70% are freelancers who have received little to no government support throughout the pandemic, the lack of activity in the industry will have detrimental consequences.

The Government’s Film and TV Production Restart Scheme is a fantastic example of a partnership between government and industry, ensuring a successful resumption of TV and film production. The same support must be extended to theatres and live events to alleviate the risks and provide economic stability to an industry that has already lost so much at the hands of the pandemic.

Read the full statement here.