A comprehensive free resource for producers, freelancers and theatre companies to aid the recovery of the performing arts, Theatre Search has been published. Spun Glass Theatre have worked to make their Theatre Search database available over a month earlier than initially planned. Theatre Search documents the opening status, dates and programming windows of nearly 900 theatres, venues and festivals across the UK.
Reactive to large-scale venue announcements and the smaller changes faced by independent organisations, their data collection has revealed that only 9% of UK venues are currently open for any activity, while 79% of UK venues are unable to open or plan for a reopening date. Theatre Search gives an overview of the entire UK theatre industry to shine a light on areas of the country where recovery is going well, and places that need more of a helping hand.
Upon signing up to the Theatre Search mailing list, users will receive a PDF with a welcome, information on how to use the database and a link to the live database. Making this information widely and freely available to the whole sector minimises unpaid labour by producers to map the new theatre landscape and will instead help new productions to be created and tours to be rebooked.
Nearly 50 venues and festivals have also shared programming information, welcoming proposals for collaboration. By creating this catalogue of opportunities, Theatre Search provides a clearer road map to recovery than the Government’s Five Stage plan. The company also hopes that the dynamic resource can continually be used as a lobbying tool for those fighting for the survival of the performing arts.
Artistic Director Jessica Cheetham commented: “This is a huge data gathering task and we are aware that there are many more venues and organisations that we haven’t uncovered yet. We encourage every venue to contact us with their information – the more we can document the clearer the picture of recovery will be for the whole sector. We have built the data gathering system to be completely responsive to the current fast changing restrictions and sensitivities regarding opening statuses.”
Regional Lead Producer for South West England and Wales, Steven Atkinson added: “Through building Theatre Search, we’ve experienced a sector going above and beyond to come together. We’ve also experienced uncertainty and isolation, especially in those who feel powerless to make decisions. We hope that Theatre Search bridges some of this gap, helping theatres to streamline their work at this challenging time, and for others to see the extraordinary range of theatres across the UK and the sterling work each is doing to come back following Covid-19.
This exciting and vital project has been made possible by emergency funding from Arts Council England. Spun Glass Theatre aims to be part of the growing movement to change the balance of touring theatre and initiate positive change to benefit artists and venues alike. Theatre Search can be used by the whole industry, during this crisis and for years to come.”