Lord Lloyd Webber said the arts are at a “point of no return” after the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The composer and stage director told MPs that it would be economically “impossible” to manage theaters with social distances.
“We simply have to re-open and operate the arts sector,” he told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee.
“We are at a point of no return.”
In July, Lord Lloyd Webber gave a concert in the London Palladium as an experiment to see if socially distant performances were viable.
He spent £ 100,000 on the pilot project hoping it would allow the theatrical works to get up and running.
He originally hoped to show that theaters could open to their full capacity safely.
However, the party had to be held with hundreds of empty seats, in compliance with the government’s guidelines for social distancing.
Since then, two major new indoor theater shows have opened in London, but also with a limited audience capacity.
Monologues The Talking Heads at Bridge Theater and Sleepless at Troubadour in Wembley Park recently opened their doors.
However, most other theaters, including those in West End, have yet to open.
Lord Lloyd Webber said: “There comes a point now when we can’t really go forward much further.”
- The Socially Distanced Show Should Continue – Is It Fun?
- Can staying up to date a theater scheme?
“Theater is an incredibly labor-intensive business. In many ways, giving a show now is an act of love.
“Very few shows have hit the jackpot as much as Hamilton, Lion King, or the Phantom of the Opera do.”
He added that theatrical productions are “not like cinema, you can’t just open the building.”
The government announced a £ 1.57 billion subsidy package earlier this year to support the arts, which was widely welcomed by the industry.
But Lord Lloyd Webber stressed the importance of naming theaters of history that can be reopened.
Lord Lloyd Webber also discussed the “critical” importance of clean air, adding that the air inside his room is cleaner than outside.
“I am completely confident that the air in the London Palladium and in all of my theaters is cleaner than the air outside.”
He also suggested that he could move his Cinderella production from the United Kingdom to a different location “where people would be more helpful”.
It was originally scheduled to open in London’s West End this month.
“We don’t want to open theaters based on social distancing. I have no intention of opening buildings with 30% capacity,” said Rebecca Ken Burton, CEO of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s LW Theaters.
She said recent months have been “devastating and catastrophic” for the Strip.
“It’s really a bad, catastrophic time and we need to find a way out of it,” she said.
“It was disappointing that the pilot was subsequently not seen as a means to fully reopen.”
“We need time to plan. We cannot turn the stage like a tap. Christmas hangs in the balance as we speak,” she added.
Culture Minister Oliver Dowden, writing for the Mail on Sunday over the weekend, said the government is currently working on a project that will see some theater return in time for the mummering season at Christmas.
“My officials are working on ‘Operation Sleeping Beauty’ which aims to bring back some of the magic of theater to families this Christmas, and I hope to share more progress with you soon,” he said.
Dowden also suggested that a quick test could help ensure theaters make a comeback.
“Testing is the key short-term until we find an effective vaccine,” he said.
“We are making exciting progress in the rapid turnaround test, as daily coronavirus tests can give people who test negative permission to visit the theater that evening.”
“On their knees”
Speaking on BBC News, actor Simon Callow said that this kind of test is a “dream”.
“This is exactly the kind of thing that we need to explore.”
He also said the holiday scheme – which has helped some in the arts industry – should extend beyond October.
This was echoed by Theaters Trust director John Morgan.
“Without setting an early date to fully reopen theaters, and with the end of the holiday plan in October, we will witness more layoffs and more theaters closed permanently,” he said in a statement.
Lucy Noble, Technical and Commercial Director of the Royal Albert Hall and president of the National Square Society, told the DCMS committee that there were “dire consequences for venues that were unable to place displays on … serious financial consequences”.
“All the stadiums are squatting financially … When Oliver Dowden announced a £ 1.57 billion bailout package, the Royal Albert Hall was hailed as one of the crown jewels this package would provide.”
“We have been told that we are not eligible for any scholarship whatsoever.
“We are only eligible for a loan. We have already taken out £ 10 million in loans. We would prefer not to go into any other debt.”
Earlier this week, design group Scene Change launched their nationwide campaign That’s Not A Pantomime on billboards across the UK.
The group calls on the government to provide specific support to the theater sector.
“Although the government has announced that theaters can now reopen, indoor productions and live performances are not financially viable while social distancing is in place,” the group said in a statement.
“With Christmas nearing, and the majority of the mummering shows now canceled, theaters will be severely short of the revenue required to see them through 2021, and will soon be left facing more iterations and closures.”
Follow us The social networking site FacebookOr on Twitter Embed a Tweet. If you have a story suggestion email .
Evil tv scholar. Proud twitter aficionado. Travel ninja. Hipster-friendly zombie fanatic.