Shakespeare’s Globe theatre warns of virus closure threat

Agence France-Presse. London | Published: 13:19, May 19,2020


In this file photo taken on April 23, 2014 members of the cast of a new touring production of William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ perform during a photocall at the Globe theatre in London. – AFP photo

Shakespeare’s Globe, the replica open-air theatre in London, has warned it could close without emergency government funds to get it through the coronavirus lockdown, documents showed Monday.

The Globe, which also leads research into the English playwright, warned in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry that the stay-at-home order ‘has been financially devastating and could even be terminal’.

Without emergency funds, ‘we will not be able to survive this crisis; a tragedy for the arts, for the legacy of England’s most famous writer, but also for the country, if our iconic site on Bankside stands empty’, it said.

The theatre, a full-scale thatched replica of Shakespeare’s 1599 open-air theatre, was built in 1997 near its original location on the south bank of the River Thames.

More than one million people a year visit the site, which also includes the candle-lit Jacobean Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and a library and archive.

The Globe is already benefiting from the government’s job retention scheme and other measures, but is asking for at least £5 million ($6.1 million, 5.6 million euros) more -- 20 percent of annual turnover.

The warning was issued in evidence to the House of Commons culture committee, and its chairman, MP Julian Knight, urged ministers to step in.

‘For this national treasure to succumb to COVID-19 would be a tragedy,’ he said.

‘Like many theatres and venues across the country, it faces a struggle for survival and an uncertain future.

‘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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