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Agreement reached between Equity and theatres to support actors

Theatres are closed until the end of May because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Palace Theatre, which usually shows the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, sits in a deserted Shaftesbury Avenue (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Palace Theatre, which usually shows the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, sits in a deserted Shaftesbury Avenue (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Palace Theatre, which usually shows the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, sits in a deserted Shaftesbury Avenue (Victoria Jones/PA)

An agreement has been reached between performing arts union Equity and the Society Of London Theatre to support actors during the current suspension of West End shows due to the coronavirus crisis.

The agreement “covers every eventuality and perspective, from long-running musicals to plays with limited runs, productions yet to open and shows still in rehearsal when the shutdown began,” the organisations said.

Theatres around the country are closed in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus and actors have found themselves suddenly out of work.

Under the new agreement, casts currently under contract are able to continue on that contract, and will have the opportunity to recommence rehearsals or performances with revised dates once the shutdown ends.

SOLT and Equity have said they will continue to lobby for those who are not supported by the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Julian Bird, chief executive of SOLT said: “Equity and ourselves have worked tirelessly since the shutdown to protect jobs and address the needs of our West End workforce during this crisis.

“We all need to work together to ensure that we can get through this as an industry, and are ready to welcome audiences back into our theatres as soon as possible.”

It is not yet known how long theatres will be closed for but SOLT has said it is clear that some productions will need longer than others to regain their foothold, and producers are therefore contingency planning for their individual shows.

Hilary Hadley, head of Equity’s live performance department, said: “It is only by our closely working together that we have managed to develop this agreement, which provides a route map for our West End producers, performers and stage management.

“It is our joint hope that this new agreement will see the West End theatre industry through this bleakest period and enable the smooth resumption of the rehearsals and performances which were so abruptly stopped by Covid-19.”

West End performances are currently cancelled until May 31.

PA