Northern Ballet ‘loses £1m due to coronavirus pandemic’

22 May 2020, 13:08

Northern Ballet ‘loses £1m due to coronavirus pandemic’
Northern Ballet ‘loses £1m due to coronavirus pandemic’. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

More financial woes for a beloved UK arts institution, as the effects of coronavirus lockdown take their toll.

The Northern Ballet, whose 50th anniversary celebrations were hit by the coronavirus crisis, says it has lost £1m due to the pandemic.

The Leeds-based company had just premiered new production Geisha in March, before having to close as the UK went into lockdown. Dancers were furloughed and are now training at home on their own and via Zoom.

Throughout quarantine, the Northern Ballet has been streaming performances online through a digital concert hall and asking members of the public for donations.

Some concert halls – including the Wiesbaden in Germany – are now starting to take in audiences at less than half capacity, as countries slowly ease out of lockdown.

Chief executive Mark Skipper told the BBC this would be financially “quite challenging” for the Northern Ballet.

Read more: World’s greatest ballerinas dance at homes for coronavirus relief >

Dancers have been furloughed and are training at home
Dancers have been furloughed and are training at home. Picture: Getty

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He said: “If social distancing has to continue in theatre auditoriums you might be reducing a capacity of a 1,000 down to 200 – that really doesn’t make things financially viable.”

If the company were to reopen, social distancing on stage would be an issue. Shows would have to be re-choreographed to avoid dancers lifting, guiding and holding each other.

Read more: Find free ballet and opera online during coronavirus outbreak >

Premier dancer Antoinette Brooks-Daw said: “You can only do so much in a small space – as a dancer, you want to run, you want to leap, you want to travel.

“At the moment you’re dancing on a one- or two-metre square piece of flooring which is better than nothing, but it comes with its own challenges.”

People with tickets for cancelled Northern Ballet shows are being asked to avoid claiming a refund where possible.