Culture Secretary: Theatre performances without social distancing some way off

Helen Mirren warns Covid pandemic could leave theatre workers homeless

‘The worry is simply people not being able to pay their rent,’ said the Oscar-winning actor

Louis Chilton
Monday 07 December 2020 11:38
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Dame Helen Mirren has claimed that the effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic could leave theatre industry workers facing unemployment and homelessness.

The pandemic has devastated the UK entertainment sector, with live theatre one of the worst hit industries.

Speaking to Sky News, Mirren said: “The worry is simply people not being able to pay their rent.

“When those wage packets aren't there, which has been the case for the last year, it is very, very, very problematic and I'm sure a lot of them are looking at homelessness.”

The Gosford Park star was interviewed in support of a Christmas meal appeal charity campaign run by Social Bite and FoodCycle, which is providing up to 200,000 meals to unhoused and vulnerable people across the festive period.

Mirren added that it was workers from all across the theatre sector – including actors, ushers, costume designers, cleaners and stagehands – who are being adversely affected by the pandemic.

“They have bills to pay, they have rent to pay and they very often are not the kind of people who have been able to create a nice little security fund for themselves,” she said.

The UK government has provided some support, allocating a £1.57bn funding package to the arts sector in July, some of which is being directed to theatres.

However, UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre are among the organisations who have said that the support schemes are not comprehensive enough, and warned that many freelancers are not receiving enough support.

The UK film and music industries are also struggling to recover from the effects of the pandemic, with experts warning that 170,000 jobs in the live music industry could be lost by the end of the year.

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