Six West End theatres are reopening next month, but are guaranteed to run at a loss

14 September 2020, 13:05

Nimax is reopening six West End theatres in October
Nimax is reopening six West End theatres in October. Picture: Getty

By Sian Hamer

Reduced capacity at the Nimax venues will mean the organisation is unable to make a profit, but the income will help support their workforce, the company says.

Nimax Theatres will open six of their West End venues next month with new social distancing measures in place.

After six months of closed doors, some of their venues, including the Apollo, Palace and Vaudeville theatres, will reopen from 22 October with “robust risk mitigation” in place to comply with government coronavirus guidelines.

The “special season” will entertain 20,000 theatre-goers a week, but by opening with a reduced capacity, it will be impossible for the company to make a profit.

Read more: Government ‘considering Seat Out to Help Out scheme’ to help concert halls and theatres >

Nimax Theatres will open six of their West End venues next month
Nimax Theatres will open six of their West End venues next month. Picture: Getty

Why are Nimax Theatres opening at a loss?

As the furlough support scheme comes to an end on 31 October, Nimax Theatres said they had to consider the “financial and human cost of large-scale redundancies”.

“We preferred to put the potential redundancy monies towards employment rather than unemployment,” the company explained in a press release.

CEO of Nimax Theatres, Nica Burns, said the reopening will earn a “contribution to our costs” which will support the company’s workforce after the furlough support scheme ends.

Read more: Andrew Lloyd Webber volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine to ‘prove theatres can reopen safely’ >

The Palace Theatre will be one of the venues to reopen after six months of closure
The Palace Theatre will be one of the venues to reopen after six months of closure. Picture: Getty

“This income will help us retain Nimax’s highly skilled, experienced workforce and give work to some of the talented tapestry of freelancers onstage and backstage,” Nica said.

“We will also be able to support some of the many teams and businesses which together give our audiences a night to remember. Our theatre community cannot wait to get back to work safely.”

When Nimax Theatres fully open, they say they will have retained their workforce and saved recruitment costs, and although they won’t make a profit, they will be earning some contribution to their costs post-furlough.

This contribution will help them achieve four key aims which include saving the jobs of their staff, supporting London's economy, fulfilling audience demand and building consumer confidence.

Former junior doctor Adam Kay will start the new season with his show This is Going to Hurt
Former junior doctor Adam Kay will start the new season with his show This is Going to Hurt. Picture: Getty

Read more: Andrew Lloyd Webber: arts at ‘point of no return’ following pandemic damages >

Which West End Theatres are re-opening?

Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue – This is Going to Hurt (22 October 2020)

Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue – Six (14 November 2020)

Duchess Theatre, Catherine Street – The Play That Goes Wrong (date TBC)

Vaudeville Theatre, the Strand – Magic Goes Wrong (date TBC)

Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue – Harry Potter And The Cursed Child (date TBC)

Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road – The Drifters Girl (date TBC)