London’s iconic Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has said it is facing closure because the coronavirus pandemic has had a “devastating” impact on its finances.
In a stark submission to a UK parliamentary committee, the 23-year-old institution warned that if it is unable to open its doors before September, it will require £5M ($6M) in urgent funding to avoid collapse.
“Without emergency funding and the continuation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we will spend down our reserves and become insolvent,” Shakespeare’s Globe said in evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
The theatre, a replica of William Shakespeare’s original 1599 Elizabethan open-air venue, said it has been unable to access Arts Council England funding due its size, while other government support schemes have not been enough to plug the financial hole blown open by coronavirus.
“We are a model for the non-subsidized arts sector that is well-run, well-managed and financially resilient, but in the face of a crisis such as this one, there is no mechanism to help us. This has been financially devastating and could even be terminal,” Shakespeare’s Globe said.
“As an organization that contributes so much to the UK’s cultural life, that delivers public benefit, and that stewards one of the most important, recognized and well-loved buildings in the country, we would hope that we have earned the right to be supported in return through this crisis.”
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chair Julian Knight called on the government to step in and support Shakespeare’s Globe during the crisis. He has written to culture secretary Oliver Dowden making the case for funding beyond September.
“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,” he said.
Shakespeare’s Globe was founded by Sam Wanamaker in 1997 and has played host to some big-name performances. Ian McKellen, Christopher Plummer, Judi Dench, Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes and David Tennent are among those who have trodden the boards at the South Bank venue.
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