‘It’s really distressing’ – Lancs theatre students on graduating into the arts industry
The pandemic has brought the industry to its knees
Before the government announced a £1.57 billion support package for Britain’s arts, culture and heritage industries last week, these sectors were very much under threat, with people’s jobs being lost due to the current crisis.
We spoke to theatre students and recent graduates about how it feels to be graduating into this, until now, neglected sector, and whether they feel that the government’s response is too little, too late.
“It’s really distressing to have worked for three years on a degree in a field that is facing collapse. I haven’t even graduated yet and am already having to think of different career paths.
“I think most of the population view the loss of theatre as a sad but inevitable loss of a type of entertainment. People say ‘it’s sad, but we can live without it’, and fail to see theatre as an INDUSTRY rather than a hobby. There are hundreds of thousands of people who rely on theatre for their jobs – actors, directors, stage managers, sales teams, box office staff, set designers, costume makers, lighting and sound designers,and orchestra
“When the pandemic draws to a close, theatre will only be able to be made by people who can afford to make it, and tickets will be extortionate to cover the costs.”
“We were expected to work on a practical project from quarantine in an environment that won’t allow for theatre practice or even accurate study or performances.
“It seems kinda pointless for theatre modules and courses to even be considered for the first term of the academic year. I know that second and third years need some form of credits done during that time but theatre as a subject won’t work practically while social distancing regulations are in place. It won’t be an accurate reflection of a student’s work ethic nor their ability.”
“Theatre is really important; it provides many jobs that are all very much in danger. With Edinburgh Fringe and many other festivals being cancelled this year it’s a really terrifying time to graduate as I feel there are no opportunities for me to actually get started in the industry.
“So many theatres are having to close for good and are therefore making many people redundant, so the chances of me getting a job in theatre right now are slim-to-none.”
“It’s really scary, theatre hasn’t been supported properly for years but at a time where the Royal Exchange are making staff redundant and smaller companies are running out of time, to get a “road map” with no sense of support is a slap in the face from the government.”
“I feel like I’m in limbo. I don’t know what will be happening with my course and my future.
“I am angry and frustrated that the arts are being ignored, considering they are one of the main things people turn to when they don’t know what to do. They are not only a source of entertainment but a source of life, both for the individual and the community. I’m thankful for what the charities and support groups are doing right now to support the community.”
“I was disappointed that it’s taken this long for a support package to be supplied to struggling theatres. It’s honestly devastating and frightening to see the industry and future careers you’ve wished for and been working so hard for start to collapse before you’ve even managed to get started.
“It’s the uncertainty that is truly terrifying, we have no idea what the industry will look like after the pandemic, how many venues will still be open, which jobs will still be there. Hopefully the government’s support package will help save theatres, but we’ll have to see how it’s spread out.
“Whilst the government is trying to support the industry it really is up to the community and the public to support it too, whether that’s by donating to a local theatre, spreading awareness on social media or even just watching these productions that are currently being streamed and broadcasted.”
“Before the support package I was getting really, really worried as it looked like the whole industry was shutting down – it was so sad seeing so many people from different sectors losing jobs and it was very scary as it looked like I was going to be graduating into a sector that had no jobs left.
“Although it was perhaps late, the support bill is amazing and I’m really glad it happened. I think theatres are gonna be different for a long time due to distancing in rehearsals and audiences but it’s gonna be exiting to see what new things come out of it.”