Venue Restrictions Eased

Venue Restrictions Eased

The ghost lights might be switched off sooner than expected in Australia's theatres, with news that the limit of 100 people on indoor gatherings will be scrapped.

Under changes announced today (June 12) by the Prime Minister, venues will still be required "sometime during July" to allow for four square metres of space per person, under revised guidelines for the Coronavirus pandemic.

Outdoor venues - such as a football ground - will be allowed to host up to 10,000 people in a 40,000 seat venue.

In New South Wales theatres will be able to open with the one per four square metre rule from July 1.

The restrictions still make large scale performing arts events unviable during July, but represent a further step in the right direction. 

However in a newsletter sent out on the second of June Brett Sheehy - the Artistic Director of the Melbourne Theatre Company - said the restriction in place at the time in Victoria (a maximum of 50 indoors) meant that "the cost of presenting the simplest one-person show to these requirements would see us losing even more than our current 2020 projected box office loss of 9.5 million, given the running costs of the show and venue versus box office income."

Some small theatres are re-opening for small capacity events.

In Darwin the Brown's Mart Theatre re-opened on June 5 as it stages performances outdoors in a court yard.

In Sydney the Darlinghurst Theatre has announced it is re-opening for limited attendance cabaret.

The restrictions place the biggest burden on theatre companies in very small venues.

In Sydney The Hayes Theatre - famous for its tight 111 seat space and cosy foyer - has announced that it has cancelled all performances until October.

Community theatres and schools staging productions in larger venues might have better luck getting their doors open - particularly where productions were on stage or ready to go in March.

More reading about when large events can re-open here. 

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