The Trustees of the Carnegie Theatre and Arts Centre today have announced that they have had to put staff at risk of redundancy with a view to consulting with them on ways in which these can be avoided, as redundancies are a last resort. Whilst this is not a direct result of the Coronavirus, it is fair to say that this has been a contributing factor.
The Trust is currently five years into a ten-year reducing subsidy period with Allerdale Borough Council, however, the venue is increasingly dependent on income earned through ticket sales, food and drinks and venue hire; despite the best efforts of their team, income has failed to keep pace in line with the subsidy decline.
While the Trustees are grateful that they have been able to take advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, in common with many other UK theatres, they are now entering a more challenging period.
The prolonged period of closure due to Coronavirus, and a projected period of at least another six months before the organisation can regain full scale operations is of extreme concern. The Trust’s primary duty is to ensure survival of the Carnegie Theatre and Arts Centre, which is a registered charity, for the future of the town of Workington and its surrounding area.
This has meant that some tough decisions have had to be made about the future shape and size of the organisation.
Whilst the recent announcement of Government Investment in the Culture, Heritage and Arts sectors suggests there may be the possibility of short-term support, there is no current clarity regarding eligibility and value of this support for the Trust.
Equally while live performances can restart from 1st August 2020, with social distancing measures in place, it is not financially viable to restart any theatre activities on this basis in the immediate future.
This decision has been an extremely difficult one to make. The primary focus of the Trust now is their duty of care to their staff.
Lee Martin-White, Chairman of the Trust said: “We have an incredible team of people who have shown enormous commitment and resilience to the Carnegie. This is a very sad and difficult time for everyone involved. We thank everyone for their continued and invaluable support. We will be back as soon as we can.”