Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said that the Government is working to bring back theatres for Christmas 2020, in a project called “Operation Sleeping Beauty”.
In an article for The Sun, he wrote: “My officials are working on ‘Operation Sleeping Beauty’ which aims to bring back some of the magic of theatre for families this Christmas, and I hope to share more progress soon.
At the same time, we’re learning from those around us.
Other countries are beginning to experiment. Germany is holding scientific studies on crowded venues – recently hosting three music events with 1,500 participants, and using testing and hygiene and safety measures to investigate the risks posed by those mass indoor events. We will watch those trials carefully and seek to learn from them.
I won’t allow the UK to be a laggard in the race to return live theatre. If we cherish the hustle and bustle of our cities and our vibrant urban economy, then we need to show our cultural organisations and businesses support now.
We cannot guarantee plain sailing, and as with any part of reopening after lockdown, we cannot guarantee zero risk.
But we need to start filling seats in much larger numbers – not just for the audiences, not just for the venues and livelihoods who depend on them, but for the entire urban economy, too. Theatre is a lynchpin of London’s West End and its absence is painfully reflected in its deserted streets.
Innovation is key. It has the ability to rewrite the entire script, and I’m keen to take some of the best experimental ideas for getting people into our theatres safely and put them into practice. It could be using technology to improve ventilation in venues, as used in the pilots at The London Palladium and other theatres.”