THE FUTURE of the Royal Shakespeare Company is looking up after the arts organisation secured a £19million loan – but redundancies will still be made.
The company applied for the repayable finance, to the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, to help it back on its feet.
Since the start of the pandemic, the RSC has been unable to stage full productions, resulting in a loss of some £46million.
The company has survived on reserves and an Arts Council England grant alongside fund-raising income, as well as furloughing up to 90 per cent of its staff – retaining just 35 freelance actors and stage managers.
The loan will help the RSC to stage live streamed seasonal performances of Tales for Winter, open full productions in spring,
continue education work in schools and communities, invest in new productions including a major piece of work as part of the Coventry City of Culture programme.
Gregory Doran, Artistic Director, and Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director, said they were relieved by the news though expressed ‘profound regret’ the loan repayments – which would take until 2040 – meant redundancies would be made.
They said: “It continues to be a challenging time for theatres big and small, and for all those in the arts and culture sector. We are very grateful for the support we have received from our audiences, donors and partners, but without any regular income from our work on stage, and currently no confirmed date for the full re-opening of the theatres, we must plan for a different future.
“The finance will help the RSC to recover, and in the medium-term reopen our Swan and The Other Place theatres which will remain closed in 2021. All our activity will increase the work available to our essential freelance workforce, which in turn supports the wider arts and culture industry.”
The loan agreement requires the company to be financially sustainable by the end of the financial year in 2022 but, in the meantime, it would help with essential expenditure.
They added: “Even when we reopen fully it will take time to return to pre-pandemic income levels. We will need to continue to make savings, as well as rebuild income, to cover the loan repayments, which will not be completed until 2040. This sadly means that we must complete our formal consultation with staff on proposed redundancies and changes to our terms and conditions. Combined with the loss of work and lack of income support for many of our freelance colleagues, this is a source of profound regret.
“We will re-open our theatres, and we will welcome people back to our buildings for full performances and for meeting together in our cafe’s, shop, restaurant and exhibitions, providing enormous enjoyment, supporting the regrowth of our local and national economy, and representing the UK on the world stage. We can’t wait for that time to come.”