The Lowry’s smaller Quays Theatre has taken on a new pandemic starring role - as a real-life courtroom.
The Salford arts complex has signed a deal with the Ministry of Justice to operate as a “Nightingale Court” – named after the Covid-19 "Nightingale" hospitals – from September 28.
The deal will provide a source of income while anti-pandemic measures restrict live performance’s economic viability, as well as giving the legal system extra capacity. Judges based at The Lowry will hear civil, family and tribunal work as well as criminal cases.
The Lowry is the nation’s first arts centre to win such a contract, the income from which will help to ensure the organisation’s survival and staffing.
Cheif executive Julia Fawcett said: “We simply cannot operate as normal in the current climate, and with no regular source of income since March, this partnership provides vital funds.
“We hope to spread the benefit of this partnership across Greater Manchester, by commissioning new work from local artists specifically designed for the post-COVID audience environment.”
The MOJ partnership tues in neatly with the theatre’s two Christmas shows: performances of the hit musical SIX and family favourite The Gruffalo will both play in the large Lyric theatre but at vastly-reduced capacity
The centre’s art galleries will reopen at weekends – when the court doesn’t sit – from November 1.
Securing a court contract isn’t the theatre’s only imaginative scheme: the Lowry is also launching its own job retention scheme for contracted employees when the Government’s scheme ends on October 31 – hopefully meaning redundancies will not be necessary.