The last thing that theatres around the UK needed was a prolonged period of low audience attendance. The effect of lower revenue for the spring season will adversely affect the entire industry.
The spring seasons are often a very busy time for event organizers in general. In the UK people want to take advantage of the (slightly) warmer weather and often book tickets to concerts, shows, and plays. For theatre’s, production companies and working actors the Coronavirus will impact the amount of work available.
One of the many problems that accompany Coronavirus is the fact that people are altering their behavior. If public gatherings mean an increased chance of catching the virus then fewer people will be inclined to book theatre tickets. Fewer ticket sales, smaller audiences will inevitably lead to a contraction of the industry.
At the moment, the damage is slight. Anecdotally, I’ve spoken to a few actors who are rehearsing for shows at the moment who confided in me that there might not be an audience to perform on the opening night. However, if the situation were to change for the better tomorrow then the industry-wide impact would be minimal.
At this present time, the companies that seem to be particularly affected are the touring groups that have a play or musical production that changes city location every couple of weeks. This makes sense because when people become fearful of outside influence – such as a virus – then they’ll avoid anything that has traveled in.
This might sound doom and gloom but on a brighter note, the United Kingdom isn’t as badly affected as other European and Asian countries at the moment. Although no one can predict what will happen next there is a possibility that the Coronavirus will be controlled by governments.
Data that came out of Hubei province in China this week indicated that there were no new cases of infection. The situation also seems to be improving in South Korea. This being said, the cases are rising in the UK and US as well as in over 110 countries that have at least one case of the infection.
The main advice to theatre professionals would be to prepare your finances and work pipeline for the worst but hope for the best. At the moment it’s very difficult to predict what will happen for certain but all you can do is overprepare in order to give yourself the best chance of success.