“Cursed Child” Producer Sonia Friedman Discusses the High Stakes of Lockdown Reopening for Commercial Theater
As the COVID-19 pandemic has led to devastating changes in many sectors, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child producer Sonia Friedman has been outspoken about the challenges that the arts sector – and especially commercial theater – is facing in the United Kingdom.
In a piece published in the Telegraph, Friedman stressed that the government must work with those in commercial theater to determine ways forward. One of the key concerns, according to WhatsOnStage, is that the new delays in reopening the United Kingdom have set producers back. Since it was assumed that theaters would be able to reopen to full audiences without distancing measures in place, producers had planned for those arrangements. Now, however, money is being lost.
Another key issue at play involves the disparities in funding being provided by the government. Although some financial support exists, such as that provided by the Culture Recovery Fund, it is not enough, and commercial theater producers report that they have been left out. WhatsOnStage provided a telling quote from Friedman on the circumstances:
As it stands (even with rumours of a government-backed insurance scheme on its way), the Cursed Child producer warns that ‘we are sleepwalking into oblivion.’
In her piece, Friedman advised that the Government of the United Kingdom could do more to provide assistance to commercial theater producers and invited the government to engage directly with producers.
Don’t give us that responsibility without providing the support. Before the pandemic, if producers got thrown off the horse, then we got just back on it again. That’s not what I’m talking about. Get this wrong, and we wipe out an entire sector.
As BroadwayWorld noted, the concerns extend beyond the UK. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reopened in Melbourne, Australia, before being shut down again, and that production alone is losing AUD 250,000 per week.
With potential changes coming to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child itself, we hope that solutions will come soon!
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