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Theatre industry statement on government aid for self-employed

SOLT

Yesterday (Thursday 26 March), Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced government aid for self-employed workers, who can now apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over three months, made as a single payment from the beginning of June.

Commenting on behalf of the theatre industry, Julian Bird (Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre) said:

‘We welcome the financial support announced by the government for self-employed and freelance people in our industry – this is very welcome and much needed.  We remain concerned by the ability of people to access adequate funds through the welfare system until payments start to be made under the new scheme in June, and urge a rethink of whether some form of interim payment can be granted to self-employed people.  Many thousands of people who graduated last summer will also not be eligible for the scheme, and will need rapid support.’

Theatre closures – SOLT and UK Theatre press statement

Following official government advice issued today (Monday 16 March), which stipulates that people should avoid public buildings including theatres, it has been announced that SOLT and UK Theatre member venues will be closed from tonight, to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

The theatres will remain closed until further notice and will re-open as soon as possible, following government recommendations.

Audience members for a show that has been cancelled will be contacted by their ticket providers and are entitled to a refund. Ticketholders are asked to bear in mind that customer service teams are currently extremely busy.

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, said:

‘We are extremely grateful to all of our audiences who have continued to support us for as long as they can, and to theatre staff across the country who have worked so hard in recent weeks to ensure the safety and enjoyment of audiences. Closing venues is not a decision that is taken lightly, and we know that this will have a severe impact on many of the 290,000 individuals working in our industry. In these uncertain times, SOLT and UK Theatre remain committed to helping provide vital support for those in need, and hope we are able to welcome audiences back to our theatres before too long.’

Many theatres that have been forced to cancel performances are charitable enterprises, and while ticketholders are all entitled to a refund for cancelled performances, those who can afford to do so are encouraged to donate the cost of their ticket to show support for the theatre industry.

Over the coming weeks, SOLT and UK Theatre will continue provide updates to the industry and the public as the situation changes, sharing current government and NHS advice.

Theatre Helpline running throughout Christmas period to support industry workers

As Christmas approaches, the Theatre Helpline will be running throughout the festive period, providing support and advice for everyone working in the theatre industry, whether in-house or freelance.

Launched in 2018 by Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre and run by Connect Assist, the free, independent and confidential 24-hour phone and email service is available 365 days a year for a range of personal and professional support.

Callers can talk to friendly, knowledgeable, trained staff about everything from bullying, harassment, mental health and wellbeing to debt and financial issues. Theatre Helpline staff can also signpost a range of useful external resources and support services if necessary.

This week, theatre venues and production offices across the UK will receive posters and flyers about the Theatre Helpline to put up around their workplaces.

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of SOLT and UK Theatre, said:

‘Christmas can be a difficult time for some, and we want to remind our industry that the Theatre Helpline is on hand as a vital resource for anyone struggling with a personal or professional issue – big or small – and unsure where to turn. One of SOLT and UK Theatre’s core missions is to ensure the theatre sector is a safe, supportive working environment, and the Theatre Helpline is central to this. Please spread the word about the Helpline among colleagues and friends.’

Theatre Helpline FAQs

Who can contact Theatre Helpline?

The Helpline can be used by anyone who works in the theatre industry. You can be employed, self- employed, a student or a volunteer, for example. It doesn’t matter what job you do. You do not have to be a member of UK Theatre, SOLT or any other membership body or organisation to use Theatre Helpline.

When is the Helpline open?

The Helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round.

Is the Helpline free to call?

Yes, the Helpline is free to call from both a landline and a mobile.

Who is at the end of the phone?

UK Theatre and SOLT have commissioned Connect Assist to provide the Helpline. Connect Assist is based in Wales and provide Helpline support for a number of UK charities, including Film and Television Support and Help for Musicians.

The people at the end of the phone are professional, friendly, approachable and knowledgeable. If they can’t help you, they will refer you on to a person or source who can.

How is the Theatre Helpline funded?

The Theatre Helpline is funded by the Theatre Development Trust.

What sort of thing can I ring the helpline about?

It is a support line that offers anyone working in the theatre and performing arts industry a resource to help them deal with any issues affecting their health and wellbeing. The person at the end of the phone can offer advice, guidance and signposting.

For instance, you might be calling because you are going through a bereavement and want to know where you could receive emotional support, or because you have an employment issue and don’t know where best to turn to help you sort it.

Is my call confidential? Do I have to give my name or other personal details?

Your call is confidential. You can give as many details as you are comfortable providing.

The person on the helpline will ask you for some basic details such as the region you are in, or the sort of role you have in the theatre industry. They will feed back anonymous data, such as the types of issues people are calling with, to help UK Theatre and SOLT to continually improve the service and understand what may need to be developed in the future.

All calls are recorded for quality and staff training. All recordings are deleted after 3 months.

I am deaf / can’t hear very well on the phone / have a speech impairment – are there other ways I can contact Theatre Helpline?

Yes, you can email the Helpline on this email address: advice@theatrehelpline.org

I have some feedback on my experience on the helpline, who can I give this to?

They welcome your feedback on your experience using the Helpline. You can give us this feedback through emailing UK Theatre and SOLT on enquiries@soltukt.co.uk or the Connect Assist team on theatrehelpline@ourcrmservice.co.uk. Please only share feedback on the service itself.