Joel Dommett: Small arts venues won’t last a month without touring shows

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Joel Dommett has said he fears small arts venues will not survive the coronavirus crisis.

The comedian and TV presenter said it is a worrying time for his fellow performers, most of whom are freelancers.

It was announced last week that all pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres are to shut in the latest move to combat the virus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has vowed that the Government will give people “all the tools” they need to get through the crisis, and announced a package of measures including business rates holidays for small businesses.

However, Dommett, who will feature in the stand-up special Comedy Against Living Miserably on Dave today, says he fears tough times lie ahead for many arts venues.

He told the PA news agency: “No-one seems to really care about the theatre, everyone seems to think that is a side thing that carries on and it’s all going to be fine, but that is always the first thing that gets cut and the last thing that get reinstated.

“It’s going to be really tough for small fringe theatres and Edinburgh fringe and all of the touring stuff.

“I know there are some small theatres that just really depend on these tours and I know they are not going to last more than a month without them so it’s going to be really tough for a lot of business in the arts.”

Dommett said his own tour has been postponed and dates later this year could also be delayed.

He said: “We are leaving them be to start off with but probably they will be moved as well and we will see whether it all happens. At the moment it’s basically day by day, seeing what gets cancelled.”

However, Dommett said he is hopeful the current crisis will bring with it some positives.

He said: “It’s really important to just be checking in with all your friends and I’ve got a lot of friends who are really struggling with being alone and being isolated and not being able to exercise and not being able to get your mind moving and so it’s a strange thing.

“There is a lot of good that has come from this with a lot of people banding together and thinking about their content and trying to do something good with their platforms and I think it’s just about supporting each other really, and I think there is some interesting stuff that is going to come out of this, but fingers crossed it won’t just go back to how it was.”

He added: “I think the big thing really is to communicate to everyone that no is alone and it’s so easy to talk rubbish and keep throwing content out and not really giving a shit about what it is and I think it’s really important just to make sure that everyone knows that everyone is in the same boat and we are not alone.

“We are all just trying out hardest and especially when we are so isolated nowadays with all this stuff, it’s so easy to feel so alone.

“Use social media as it was intended for in the first place and just communicate with people and talk to people and check in with people and make sure everyone is alright and spread good cheer and love rather than spreading slow hate.”

Comedy Against Living Miserably is on Dave at 9pm.

Dommett is currently scheduled to tour the UK with Unapologetic (If That’s Okay?) from October 6-December 11.