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Theatres might not reopen for a year, writer says

James Graham said that the industry makes money for the country but would would need help before it is up and running again.

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Writer James Graham (Ian West/PA)

Writer James Graham (Ian West/PA)

Writer James Graham (Ian West/PA)

Playwright James Graham has warned it might take a year for theatres to reopen.

The writer, whose credits include Who Wants To Be A Millionaire cheating scandal Quiz, which he adapted into a TV series, said performing arts venues will struggle.

The industry has examined “social distancing models” but they do not work economically, he said.

Graham told Question Time: “We have tried our very best. 

“It’s now apparent that there’s no real, viable social distancing model to get audiences safely, and it has to be safe, back into theatres to watch plays and musicals.

“They have to be 20% full if you do the measures and they need to be 80% full to sustain themselves economically.”

He told the BBC One programme: “For every £1 you invest in the arts you get about £5 back so we can’t wait to be back doing that for you.

“It’s not an equivalence whereby arts funding costs hospital beds.

“We can pay for more hospital beds in our films, television dramas and out theatres.”

But he added: “This time next year might be the first time we get to properly… reopen.”

Graham called for “more flexibility…  on the job retention scheme” and “an investment package that will allow us to bridge this gap in the short term”.

He added: “There is such a global thirst for British content and British stories.”

Graham’s credits also Ink and This House as well as TV dramas Coalition and Brexit: An Uncivil War.

PA