Norwich Playhouse

More than half the staff at Norwich Theatre Royal and Norwich Playhouse are at risk of redundancy, the venues confirmed today.

In a statement on their joint website, the venues said that 113 of their 217 staff could lose their jobs as part of a cost-saving restructure.

Another 59 staff retained on zero-hours contracts are also being let go.

The charity’s most recent published accounts put its wage bill at £3.9m a year.

The news comes just days after the Theatre Royal said it was cancelling its 2020 panto show Dick Whittington, saying a lack of advance ticket sales meant it could not risk upfront spending on the production when it was uncertain whether Covid-19 restrictions would allow it to go ahead.

The annual pantomime run accounts for around 16% of the 373,000 tickets sold for its productions each year.

Chief executive Stephen Crocker said: “Our staff are the lifeblood of our organisation, and my team and I have done all we can to support and protect them over these past few months and will continue to do so as we explore all options through this consultation process.

“On their behalf I remain shocked and angry that the government is standing idle as an industry that has delivered so much to this country and is so vital to its recovery is being allowed to fade into dust.

“I will continue to fight hard for our staff, our theatres and our whole industry but this is an incredibly dark day for us and for arts and culture in Norwich, Norfolk and the East of England. I am simply heart-broken.”

In Ipswich, the town’s Regent Theatre and Corn Exchange are run by Ipswich Borough Council, which put 200 of its leisure staff on furlough back in April.

Shows for the autumn are still currently on sale – including its Christmas panto, Aladdin – with an audience promise of a full refund for any cancelled shows.