Covid-19 restrictions cause theatre group’s Christmas cancellations

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  • Nicola Sturgeon
    Nicola Sturgeon
    5th First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party
Scottish Ballet dancers Roseanna Leney as The Sugarplum Fairy, Jerome Barnes as The Nutcracker Prince and Javier Andreu as The Rat King posing in The Dome bar Edinburgh, underneath their famous Christmas tree (Andrew Perry/Scottish Ballet) (PA Media)
Scottish Ballet dancers Roseanna Leney as The Sugarplum Fairy, Jerome Barnes as The Nutcracker Prince and Javier Andreu as The Rat King posing in The Dome bar Edinburgh, underneath their famous Christmas tree (Andrew Perry/Scottish Ballet) (PA Media)

A theatre group has announced cancellations of major Christmas shows from Boxing Day due to the latest Covid-19 restrictions.

Capital Theatres said the Scottish Ballet’s Nutcracker production at the Festival Theatre and the King’s Theatre’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty will shut their doors from December 26.

The cancellations came after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that from December 26 indoor events would be limited to 200 people or less, with one metre social distancing in place for up to three weeks.

Writing on Twitter Capital Theatres chief executive Fiona Gibson said: “We are devastated to find ourselves in a position where keeping the King’s and Festival theatres open is simply not viable for this period, especially after we have worked so hard to build our business back up after 15 months of darkness.

These closures, which come at our busiest time of year, will have serious financial implications and we urge Scottish Government to clarify and administer the support available to the cultural sector as quickly as possible

Capital Theatres CEO Fiona Gibson

“It’s a huge disappointment for our staff, the artists on stage and of course audiences for whom a visit to the theatre is often a highlight of the holiday period.

“A small consolation is that we can continue to entertain our youngest audience members in the Studio.

“These closures, which come at our busiest time of year, will have serious financial implications and we urge Scottish Government to clarify and administer the support available to the cultural sector as quickly as possible.

“Significant funding is needed to ensure that when we emerge from this latest pandemic crisis Scotland still has a theatre industry to cherish.”

A Capital Theatres spokesperson said: “This leaves us with no choice but to cancel all performances of our beloved panto Sleeping Beauty at the King’s Theatre and the very beautiful Nutcracker at the Festival Theatre from December 26 inclusive onwards.

“This is because all such performances already have over 200 people booked in and running them at this reduced capacity would not be sustainable.

“The Enormous Christmas Turnip in The Studio will still proceed under the new regulations and will continue until the end of its run on December 31 with one metre social distancing in place.”

A spokesperson for the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatres said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement today of increased Covid measures for Scotland poses fresh challenges for our industry, especially coming at what is usually the most vital time of year for theatre box offices.

“Particularly devastating is the limiting of event capacity and the reintroduction of social distancing, which will make it impossible for the vast majority of theatres to operate without making a significant loss.

“Many will have no choice but to close, which will mean the immediate loss of work for freelance and casual staff.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s allocation of new funding for affected businesses and call for it to be distributed as quickly as possible to those most in need in our industry.

“Theatre organisations will continue to need emergency aid into the new year to help venues survive and protect our workforce.”

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