Given that the Government is stopping people from doing their jobs, Bird thinks they should compensate arts workers, “particularly freelancers, who make up 70 per cent of our workforce.
“The Government message has been that the best way to get freelancers money is by opening theatres and getting everyone working. We’ve managed to do that, and now it’s all shut again. That means people are facing a Christmas without any income.”
Many producers have raised the urgent need for the Government to provide insurance help to theatre, as they do for the film and TV industry. “We’re continuing to talk to the DCMS and the Treasury about an insurance scheme, so producers can get on and plan,” confirms Bird. “Today is a case in point: this is why it’s critical we have insurance.”
The Government does understand the needs of theatre, after months of discussion, believes Bird. “But all they’ve kept saying is ‘Get back open.’ Now, they’ve taken away that choice from the largest theatre sector in the UK.”
Does Bird feel betrayed, given that the Government didn’t just allow theatres to reopen, but encouraged them to do so? “Well, Oliver Dowden championed Operation Sleeping Beauty, and very actively. He was at the London Palladium on Friday night with the Royal family, so theatres were safe then.
“I do understand that it’s a pandemic, and circumstances around the virus change. But if the Government has publicly encouraged a sector to get back to work, it’s incumbent on them to compensate that sector if they then close it down.”