The Royal Albert Hall risks closure under social distancing restrictions

The Royal Albert Hall may have to close under social distancing measures, its chief executive has said.

In an interview with The Telegrah, Craig Hassal spoke candidly about the “seriously desperate” situation.

Current government guidelines require at least two metres to be kept between people out in public, forcing theatres to reduce capacity significantly.

“If Government says, ‘You can reopen but these are the guidelines’, we can’t reopen,” Hassal shared, revealing that the Royal Albert Hall requires a 85 per cent occupancy in order to “deliver a regular year’s income”.

“We may have to close,” he said. “If we can’t make this work, we don’t have a secret stash of money. We’re digging into our reserves now.

“The biggest risk is that we would close down. You can’t imagine the Royal Albert Hall being forced to close, it’s unthinkable.”

A statement from the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport said: “As soon as it is safe to do so, we will be encouraging everyone to visit the UK’s vibrant performing arts venues.

“The Government has announced unprecedented financial measures and we encourage all eligible arts organisations to apply for the support available to them.”

Last week it was announced that West End and UK theatres are to remain closed until at least June 28.

However producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh fears it may not be until 2021 when they can safely re-open.

Appearing on Michael Ball’s BBC Radio 2 show, Mackintosh said: “I think from the moment social distancing is gone, we will take four to five months to get the actors back together and re-open the mothballed theatres.

“It’s a huge thing, a big musical has 200 people working in that one building. It’s why live theatre is like no other, it’s the most exhilarating experience you can ever go to.”

He added: “What definitely we all know is that we want the audiences and actors to feel safe. You can’t change the stage: try doing “One Day More” six feet apart. You’d need Radio City Music Hall. And it’d be no good. An audience being spaced out would be a horrible experience.”

Picture: Flickr/oatsy40

About the author: Rachel Wise

UK based freelancer journalist Rachel contributes regularly to Stageberry with features and interviews from the hottest new shows and stage stars.


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