Shakespeare's Globe has warned that the COVID-19 shutdown has left it at risk of insolvency and permanent closure without financial support from the Government.
"COVID-19 presents the greatest threat to the future of Shakespeare's Globe since our opening in 1997 and its immediate impact has been financially devastating," said theatre bosses in a document made public this week.
The warning comes in written evidence submitted by the Globe to the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee.
Shakespeare's Globe normally attracts more than a million visitors a year to Bankside and the charity would expect a turnover of around £24 million. But this year the theatre is empty and the gates are closed.
"Without emergency funding and the continuation of the coronavirus job retention scheme, we will spend down our reserves and become insolvent," Globe bosses warn in their submission to the committee of MPs.
The Bankside venue receives no funding from the Government or Arts Council England and has had to face "radical cost-cutting, furloughing and activity cessation" – whilst still making material available online to maintain a connection with audiences.
The theatre has warned that, finances aside, it faces other challenges when it is permitted to reopen by the Government: its front-of-house operations are staffed exclusively by volunteers.
"Nearly 80 per cent of our 570 volunteers are over 70, and a growing number of them have already expressed that they are not willing to volunteer this year, regardless of when we re-open.
"A significant number also travel long distances to volunteer with us, and therefore may not be willing to do so, and there is also a small number who remain unwell with COVID-19."
Julian Knight MP, chair of the DCMS select committee, said: "Shakespeare's Globe is a world-renowned institution and not only part of our national identity, but a leading example of the major contribution the arts make to our economy.
"For this national treasure to succumb to COVID-19 would be a tragedy.
"Like many theatres and venues across the country, it faces a struggle for survival and an uncertain future-the lifting of lockdown will not automatically mean 'business as usual' for the creative industries.
"The Government must step up now and find more funding to shore up our cultural landscape and safeguard our rich past while giving hope to those whose livelihoods depend upon it."
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