Further Sussex music and arts venues in trouble as a result of COVID-19

Posted On 02 Jul 2020 at 2:28 pm

Worthing Pavilion (pic Glen Harris)

We are all too aware that the global Arts sector has been hit incredibly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. We have reported on the Brighton & Hove situation, but just along the coast, the Worthing Theatres and Museum have announced their restructure consultation.

Amanda O’Reilly, the CEO and Head of Programming for Worthing Theatres and Museum, has released the following press statement:

“Having originally advised the public not to go to the theatre but not offering any closure orders, on 20th March 2020 the British Government finally ordered ‘theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close ‘as soon as they reasonably can, and not to open tomorrow.’

Since then no venues have been able to open their doors and the industry as a whole is still in the dark about when we will be allowed to hold live performances again or exactly what this will look like. Whilst we were thrilled to be awarded funding from the Arts Council England COVID-19 Emergency Fund, and have utilised the Government Job Retention (furlough) Scheme, without additional support from the Government we have no choice but to make the difficult but necessary decision to restructure and are currently in a process of consultation with employees.

The proposed changes include redundancies and reduced hours. WTM has a staff of 150 and we have sadly added 19 staff members, from across all departments but weighted towards public facing, to a redundancy consultation list. A further 29 staff members will be facing a temporary reduction in hours and pay. We have consulted with Worthing Borough Council, and BECTU on these changes with the input of WTM union representatives.

Connaught in Worthing

WTM became a charitable trust on Nov 1st 2019. Being ordered to close after only 5 months of operation is an incredibly challenging situation and we are doing everything we can to survive and to reopen our venues for the people of Worthing as soon as it is safe to do so. We were incredibly proud of our debut season as a new company with strong sales and an air of excitement about the future. This process has been absolutely heartbreaking to all of us at WTM. If we do not take this action then we fear we may never be able to reopen”.

Many other Sussex music venues are fighting to survive and could be lost forever! If you care about the history of your town and music scene, then visit your favourite venue(s) on social media and see how YOU can make a difference! THANK YOU.

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