Leeds Freedom Day: Theatre industry facing a tough few months ahead, says Yeadon Town Hall CEO

The theatre industry faces a tough few months ahead following the so-called 'Freedom Day', a Leeds performing arts venue has said.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 11:45 am

Legal requirements such as face masks, social distancing and the number of households able to mix are no longer in place as of Monday, July 19.

Theatres are among the venues that will be allowed to open with full stalls again, however, CEO of Yeadon Town Hall Jamie Hudson, believes that this won't be the "bounce back" everyone was expecting a few months ago.

Mr Hudson said: "My general view, and I think this is a view of quite a lot of people that work in industry, is that it's gonna be a really tough six to 12 months.

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CEO of Yeadon Town Hall Jamie Hudson.
CEO of Yeadon Town Hall Jamie Hudson.

"Some visitors to our shows will just come straight back, and some won't.

"That kind of nervousness is what makes it difficult to predict the way forward.

"We've got something on the 24th that's sold out, it's a social distanced 70s and 80s vinyl music show, but then we've got stuff in August that isn't selling at all.

"This kind of unknown and uncertainty just puts the fear of God into the industry and I think we're in for a very rough year really until it resolves and people get the confidence to come back."

He added: "If you'd of asked two months ago what we thought July 19th would be like, I think we would have said 'cases are going to be so low it's gonna be fantastic' because I think that's where we were headed.

"I don't think it does feel quite safe yet and the problem is that we all now know so many people who have had Covid in the last few weeks, so obviously the virus is still very much with us, more than ever.

"Now cases have risen I don't think the 19th July, certainly for our sector, is going to have that dramatic bounce back effect that we first thought."

Although there is no legal requirement for masks and other previous restrictions, the Government has published guidance for businesses which said it “expects and recommends” masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces.

For staff and customers at Yeadon Town Hall, there will be few changes to the already planned schedule.

Shows up until March will continue to be at a reduced capacity, although guests will be able to make their own decisions regarding face masks.

Mr Hudson said: "All these shows are socially distanced, to a degree.

"Reduced capacity is what we're calling them because it is quite hard to enforce distancing if people don't want too.

"That's the key thing, nothing we are planning to up to February/March next year has a full capacity audience.

"We kind of accepted that we need to reduce our capacity in order to make people feel safe."

He added: "We are leaving masks to the public's discretion

"The majority of our audience is double jabbed because they are generally 50 and over and because we're reducing the capacity of our all shows and we're a big building, I think we've got measures in place where we feel safe that people can make their own decisions."

Upcoming shows at Yeadon Town Hall include Vinyl Richie's Acapulco Disco Show on Saturday, July 24, which promises to be a 'post lock-down, summer blowout disco party spectacular'.

Other events include the Below Deck on Saturday, August 21 - sea-shanty party with plenty of laughing, rum and beer, as well as the ABBA Party in Fernado's Greek Taverna on Friday September 10 to Sunday 12, and the Friday, September 17 to Sunday 19.

Later in the year is an Oktoberfest event, George Michael Story show and Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly tribute.