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30 jobs at Canterbury's Marlowe Theatre at risk amid coronavirus slump

Thirty jobs are at risk at Kent's biggest theatre following a slump in revenue during lockdown.

The Marlowe in Canterbury has seen almost all of its income disappear as it has been forced to cancel or reschedule 288 performances since March.

The Marlowe Theatre has announced that it is considering making 30 redundancies
The Marlowe Theatre has announced that it is considering making 30 redundancies

During this period, 97% of the venue's workforce have also been furloughed.

But employees have now been told that 30 members of staff could be made redundant as part of cost-saving measures at the theatre.

Chief executive Deborah Shaw said: "We’re working hard to ensure that The Marlowe will reopen again as soon as it is safe to do so, but as an independent charity without regular funding from Arts Council England, the impact of the pandemic has been immense.

“Up until this moment, we’ve worked hard to protect the livelihoods of all the people that we employ, including a commitment to pay our casual staff members through to the end of the job retention scheme.

"Our brilliant team is what makes The Marlowe such a hugely successful organisation, which is why it’s particularly painful to have to make this decision.”

Marlowe chief executive Deborah Shaw
Marlowe chief executive Deborah Shaw

The venue has started consulting workers and trade unions about the potential cuts.

A final decision on the redundancies will not be made until the discussions are concluded.

Bosses from The Marlowe say 99% of its income is made through the vending of tickets and related sales.

Chair of The Marlowe Trust Jonathan Church said: “This pandemic has had a devastating impact on our cultural industries, with theatres the length and breadth of the country being forced to make very similar decisions as ourselves.

"We’re encouraged by the government’s recently announced commitment to support our industry, but even in the event of securing this additional support we will be operating in a very different world for the foreseeable future, making these heart-breaking changes necessary.”

"Our brilliant team is what makes The Marlowe such a hugely successful organisation, which is why it’s particularly painful to have to make this decision..."

Marlowe bosses also state that conversations with the producers of shows currently scheduled for the autumn are continuing, with further announcements expected in the coming weeks.

This comes after organisers of the venue's Christmas pantomime told KentOnline they are weighing up the financial risks of staging the popular show in the wake of continued restrictions.

The theatre has also been encouraging ticket holders for cancelled productions to support it by donating the value of their tickets to the venue or by opting to take their refund as credit on their accounts.

Deborah Shaw added: “We’re planning to announce new shows taking place in 2021 in the coming weeks and as ever, you can book safe in the knowledge that all customers have the option of a full refund if the show doesn’t go ahead as planned.”

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