Grand Theatre shows could stay postponed despite Government's relaxed measures
Shows and performances at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre could remain postponed until 2021 - despite the Government's announcement that indoor theatres can reopen from August 1.
The Government said yesterday that indoor theatres, music and performance venues can reopen to the general public as long as social-distancing measures are in place.
However, a spokeswoman for the Grand said its scheduled pantomime and other shows will remain postponed.
The spokeswoman for the Lichfield Street venue said: "It takes a significant amount of time to schedule and sell a show, therefore we cannot immediately re-open on the August 1.
"Until we see details from the Government, we can't confirm anything further at this stage. We will need time to plan what we can and cannot do."
It was also revealed that some shows have been cancelled at the Grand, such as Grease which was set to star Peter Andre in October.
The spokeswoman continued: "On Friday, July 3, we announced that this year’s pantomime is postponed until next year, shows have been re-scheduled into 2021 and unfortunately some shows like Grease, starring Peter Andre have been cancelled. When we haven’t been able to re-schedule a show we have provided a full refund to the customer."
Sold-out runs of Derren Brown, scheduled for June 22 to June 26, and comedian Romesh Ranganathan, scheduled for May 23, are just two examples of popular shows that have been rescheduled.
Other theatres in the West Midlands and Staffordshire were approached for comment.
The decision to allow theatres to reopen was welcomed by bosses at Dudley Council, which looks after Dudley Town Hall and Stourbridge Town Hall.
Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member responsible for halls said: "We welcome this update from the Prime Minister and will be looking at how this applies to our own venues. The safety of our customers, performers and staff will always remain our top priority and we will not be re-opening our doors until we are certain that we have all the necessary safety measures in place to protect everyone.
"People can still continue to enjoy the arts in the borough, we ran a series of online family shows last month and we have a drive-in cinema event planned at Himley in August. We look forward to welcoming our customers back to a host of big name and popular shows at our town halls once we know it is safe to do so."
However, the social-distancing measures have caused concern among those working in the production side of the industry.
Staff who are based backstage have to work in close proximity to each other, which goes against social-distancing measures to stop Covid-19 spreading.
The reopening of theatres was welcomed by production and media management company Arts Resource, which is based in the West Midlands.
The firm's owner, Alex Carver, said: "It is fantastic news that venues can begin to reopen again.
"Unfortunately, this is not the end of the road for us. We now face the challenge of making these venues operational whilst remaining ‘Covid secure’.
"This is likely to continue to impact many businesses. I hope, as all of us in our industry do, that the public continue to support us through these times by coming to see performances."
Dr Matt Grimes, senior lecturer in music industries at Birmingham City University, said: "Whilst the live music industry no doubts welcomes this positive step forward, as with many of the announcements coming from the Prime Minister’s office, the devil is in the detail, which is yet to be revealed.
"Additionally, whilst there is in many respects a need for a structured safe return to live performances, the pilot schemes that are under discussion to determine the efficacy of the government’s plans, may have come about too late for saving many live music venues."
Under the Government's measures, theatres have been asked to reduce venue capacity and limit ticket sales.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "The UK’s performing arts sector is renowned across the world and I am pleased that we are making real progress in getting its doors reopened to the public with social distancing.
"This is a welcome step in the path to a return to normal and, coupled with our £1.57 billion rescue package, will help secure the future of this important sector."