UK arts venues hit by 92% fall in income on first day of COVID-19 response


Arts venues across the UK experienced a dramatic drop in both income and bookings on the first day following the government’s advice for theatres to shut down in response to COVID-19.

Compared to the equivalent day last year, 17 March 2020 saw venues all over the country witness a fall of 92% in income and advance ticket sales, according to figures compiled by management consultants TRG Arts and data specialists Purple Seven.

The two firms have announced they are to work together to provide intelligence and advice to the arts sector in the wake of closure of many of the nation’s arts venues as a result of the fallout from the coronavirus.

TRG’s CEO, Jill Robinson, said, “It is vital the UK arts sector works together with robust, real-time data to understand and react to the rapidly changing landscape. On the day after the government imposed shutdown, leaders of theatres and concert halls were focussing on managing a phenomenal onslaught of requests for refunds. This in itself will have a huge impact on cashflow, but it will be multiplied if advance bookings dwindle.

“To safeguard the UK’s world-renowned cultural sector, the government needs to ensure the sector has grants to deal with the immediate crisis. At the same time arts lovers need to show support for their local venues not only by making donations but also by purchasing advance tickets. We’re already seeing wonderful examples of support for organisations who are positively engaging with their audiences to minimise the short-term impact. But this will be a marathon, not a sprint, and with our colleagues at Purple Seven we will be monitoring the financial ‘advance’ for the sector and encouraging venues to do all they can to ensure that when their doors reopen their seats are full.”

Purple Seven’s CEO, Stuart Nicolle, said, “For over a decade and a half we have gathered and aggregated data from a large and varied cohort of cultural organisations. That data has never been as valuable as it is today. As we travel through and beyond the immediate crisis it will be crucial that we work together to understand what has changed and how we need to adapt the way we work.”

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As well as editing the Auditoria website, James is the deputy editor on Traffic Technology International. Previously he was assistant editor on an engineering title for several years and worked for various other trade magazines before that. James is happily married and has a young daughter and son who keep him busy.

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