Two brokers have joined forces to address the problem that British theatres and live music venues are facing due to the pandemic
British theatre and live music venues can no longer get commercial insurance due to the Covid-19 pandemic and are therefore calling on the government to provide a financial backstop.
Theatre owner, Andrew Lloyd Webber has asked the government to help with the insurance issue, as “we are now at a point of no return”.
A handful of venues have reopened in Britain, but underwriters are excluding Covid-19 from cover. This means that there is no protection against cancellation for theatres or live music venues or from legal action should anyone in the audience or cast fall ill due to Covid-19.
Although some small theatres are continuing regardless, it is a different story for other larger tours, festivals and big names – and it’s a deal breaker.
This is according to Reuters.
James Davies, director at broker EC3 said: “You’re not going to get a sponsor, full-house ticket sales, finance, TV licensing or big stars unless they are guaranteed.”
Lloyd-Webber told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that British theatres need to be given a date when they can open at full capacity if they are to survive the pandemic. This is because a pilot that was shown at one of his theatres confirmed it was not viable to operate at 30% capacity or with social distancing.
The entertainment sector has been hard hit during the lockdown which began in the UK during March, more than 15,000 theatrical performances were cancelled – the loss is more than £303m in box office revenue as cited by a parliamentary report in July.
The report said: “Government must address the urgent need for the UK’s cultural industries to be covered by adequate insurance.”
Back in May, only 12% of organisations believed that they would get the insurance they need to operate according to the Society of London Theatres – this dilemma seems to have been complicated.
It follows Britain, France and Australia introducing backstops for the film industry, although there are no similar schemes for live performances.
Organisers of live performances in Britain are therefore seeking a similar scheme to the one worth £500m that the government put forward for the film industry back in July. The scheme insures productions for around 70% of losses and up to a maximum of £5m, if filming has to stop due to the pandemic.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “We are working to get the scheme (for the film and TV industry) open for applications as soon as possible and we have committed to cover eligible losses from the date the scheme was announced.”
However, it is unlikely that venues and shows will break even, according to Tim Thornhill, sales director in entertainment and sport at broker Tysers. He said that venues and shows will struggle to survive with social distancing in place as they need at least 70% of capacity to break even but a government-backed insurance scheme would help them get going.
Both EC3 and Tysers are working together on proposals but the prospect of affordable insurance for Covid-19 being offered by the insurance industry is remote, due to insurers being reluctant to provide cover and therefore the British Government Film Fund having no insurance partnership.
Allianz, Hiscox and Chubb are the major insurance providers of entertainment liability insurance, a spokesman confirmed that Allianz was no longer providing this cover for Covid-19 illness or cancellation.
Chubb and Hiscox have been contacted for comment.
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