Next week, after 14 months of closure and despair, the arts are reawakening. But the damage caused by Covid runs deep – and recovery is by no means assured
“If we had to close down again,” says Andrew Lloyd Webber, “we couldn’t survive.” Webber is staging his new musical Cinderella, with book by Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell, in a full-capacity theatre in July, having already delayed its premiere twice. He has mortgaged his house in London and will be selling one of his seven theatres. “It cost £1m a month to keep them dark,” he says. “You can’t just lock them up and throw away the key. I don’t run the theatres for profit and there wasn’t a reserve.”
Across the UK, the arts are reawakening after over 14 months of unprecedented disruption. As venues reopen – dates differ across the nations, though 17 May is a key date in Scotland and England – there will be much to celebrate, and many delights in store for audiences. But the pandemic hit culture and entertainment more severely than any other part of the economy, including hospitality, throwing fresh light on already deep inequalities.
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