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Royal Exchange may make two-thirds of staff redundant

Royal Exchange Theatre
Royal Exchange Theatre

Manchester’s Royal Exchange theatre - one of the strongest outside London - is working “incredibly hard” to ensure its survival and future.

Theatre bosses have entered redundancy consultations with staff and expect to cut almost two-thirds of permanent jobs.

“This is devastating and very painful. We have explored all other possible options and this is the last resort in protecting the future of the theatre,” say theatre bosses, who claim the pandemic’s impact on theatre has been “monumental”.

Though in recent times the company has managed to reduce its dependence on public subsidy to less than a quarter of its £10 million annual turnover, the impact of lockdown on the Exchange’s ability to operate commercially has been devastating.

“At the moment, we simply can’t trade,” says the theatre, finding itself in a similar position to theatres of all sizes around the country. “The Royal Exchange is heavily reliant on the income earned through ticket sales, fundraising, food and drink and venue hire.”

Even if the theatre was allowed to open tomorrow, social distancing measures would make operations “just not financially viable”. Recent government announcements, they say, put “nothing on the table which gives us confidence or clarity to be able to restart any activities in the immediate future”.

Artistic director Bryony Shanahan said "It’s been heart-breaking to come to the realisation that this is the action we have no choice but to take.

“Our staff are dedicated, talented, loyal and don’t deserve this – and neither do the thousands of people in our industry who are facing job loss and uncertainty. It is an awful time for us all, and it’s also hugely frustrating that government support simply hasn’t reached us in time."


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