Sunday 13 June 2021 3:30 pm

Theatres set the stage for state-backed insurance scheme

Theatre grandees are said to be on the brink of striking a deal with the government for a state-backed insurance scheme enabling performances to go ahead.

Top West End figures have an agreement in principle from culture secretary Oliver Dowden for a taxpayer-backed indemnity programme, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

The plans have now been passed to the Treasury, which will wait for Boris Johnson’s announcement on Covid restrictions tomorrow before giving the green light.

Sources told the newspaper that similar insurance schemes will be offered to cover live entertainment, concerts and music festivals.

A group of well-known theatreland bosses are said to have been in talks with officials for more than a year to secure a government-backed insurance scheme.

The lack of insurance has been a major barrier to restarting live events in the UK, with Covid-related cover effectively unavailable on the open market.

The industry has been lobbying for the launch of a government-backed scheme, similar to the one put in place for the film and TV sector, to ensure events can go ahead.

According to the report, the scheme will underwrite ticket revenues if theatres or other events have to close down because of a Covid outbreak within the production team or a fresh wave of restrictions.

Ministers have been told that insurance to cover West End and major regional touring theatre would cost an estimated £179m over the next year.

It is not clear how much the scheme for other live events would cost.

The move comes after Andrew Lloyd-Webber said he was willing to be arrested to reopen his London shows later this month.

Under the government’s roadmap for easing lockdown all restrictions were due to be lifted from 21 June, but ministers are now expected to delay this step by up to a month. 

The mooted delay has also sparked anger among hospitality bosses and chiefs in the badly-hit nightlife sector.
City A.M. last week revealed that some UK nightclubs are considering opening their doors from 21 June regardless of the government’s decision on restrictions.