Birmingham Hippodrome has told 50% of its staff that they are at risk of redundancy as it warns that the current collapse in ticket sales means its future is “in jeopardy”.
The charity had an income of nearly £35m in the year to March 2019 and employs 130 permanent staff.
Like many theatres and arts venues, it cannot carry out any of its normal activity or raise income due to coronavirus restrictions, and it expects to be closed until November.
In a statement, Fiona Allan, artistic director and CEO, said: “Almost all our income is received from ticket sales, and without that revenue stream the future of the theatre is in jeopardy.
“We have had to accept that our immediate future has changed, and our financial situation will be in jeopardy for some time to come. When it comes time to reopen Birmingham Hippodrome, it will need to be a different organisation than when we closed.
“This has led to the very difficult and heart-breaking conclusion that we need to scale back areas of the business and significantly reduce our team size.”
Furlough changes ‘not fit for purpose’
Allan added that the decision to begin the consultation on redundancies was made in part due to changes to the furlough scheme, which mean that employers will soon have to start contributing to the salaries of furloughed staff.
She said: “The changes to the furlough scheme announced by the chancellor last week, whilst fair for the broader economy, are not fit for purpose for the theatre industry.
“With the closure of the job retention scheme on 31 October and no current guidance of when we will we be able to reopen, we do not have the reserves to sustain prolonged closure.”