The show must go on: how Harlow Playhouse is coping during the pandemic

Playhouse 1

DUE to the pandemic, Harlow Playhouse had to cancel its shows when the first lockdown went into effect.

During that time, only maintenance workers were entering the building.

Kirstie Brough, commercial and development manager at Harlow Playhouse, gave her experience as an employee.

Kirstie said that working from home was difficult for employees, as they had to inform customers via phone calls about the cancellation of shows, along with attempting to get used to the sudden changes the lockdown brought.

Kirstie said that most customers were very understanding and explained that a system was set up to keep customers updated about cancelled shows. There are options for customers to either donate the money to Harlow Playhouse or receive refunds.

Currently, Harlow Playhouse is quieter than ever, with all shows being cancelled until December. According to Kirstie, only the bar and cafe remain open, along with dance classes. However, there are plans for December, as two shows are set to run – Treasure Island and the Great Christmas Sleigh Ride.

Kirstie said: “Usually, I would be trying to sell so many shows. Now, we haven’t got any other shows than Christmas ones. However, the customers have been really great.”

Due to restrictions, the Playhouse can now only sell 170 seats out of the 400 they have, to maintain social distancing. Coupled with mask-wearing, the Playhouse is taking safety precautions seriously, with their aim to entertain customers while keeping them safe.

Due to the pandemic and resulting loss of revenue, hope for the arts seemed to be dwindling. However, thanks to the suggestion of the Arts Council, a new fund was created.

In October, Harlow Playhouse was awarded £500,000 as part of the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Kirstie stated these funds were only to replace revenue lost due to the pandemic. Their purpose being to sustain the Playhouse for another year.

Kirstie added: “The Arts Council was amazing.”

At first, Kirstie believed that the government was not doing enough for the arts. However, with this grant, the government provided much-needed support, giving hope to lovers of the arts.

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Adriana Kussova

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