Campaign for the early reopening of Open Air Performing Arts
The Coalition for Open Air Theatre and Out To Perform have joined forces to persuade the government to prioritise the early opening of the covid-safest part of the performing arts: the small-scale outdoor performing sector, which we believe presents the best opportunity to spearhead the cultural revival in 2021.
Response to the Government's Roadmap for England
We welcome the government having published a roadmap with a structured approach, and for the stating that:
It will follow the science, and be guided by “data, not dates”
Outdoor activities will be prioritised in line with scientific consensus that they present very low risk
However, we believe the roadmap does not follow those principles when it comes to the performing arts
- With epidemiological studies estimating an 18.7 times lower risk of transmitting Covid outdoors than indoors, we believe that treating indoor and outdoor performing arts similarly in both opening dates and in % reduced capacity contradicts the government's own scientific guidance
- With the performance arts guidance stating that controlled seated events present a lower risk that standing events, we do not believe that opening outdoor visitor attractions such as theme parks on April 12th, yet keeping it illegal to perform outdoors at controlled seating arts venues until May 17th, is in line with their own science
- In 2020, the outdoor sector demonstrated its low risk with thousands of safely-run events and zero reported cases of transmission. Yet in 2021, the roadmap places the sector in the same segment as locations with proven cases of transmission such as indoor restaurants and socialising indoors.
Reopening society in a safe manner is a responsibility of government, but as is the economic and mental wellbeing of the people too. Reopening the outdoor performing arts sector serves these last two goals without compromising the first.
We call on the government to:
Bring forward the outdoor sector’s reopening to as soon as vaccines have been offered to all of groups 1-7, which will coincide with over 50% of the population, bringing the risk of death from Covid to the average annual level of flu. At present rate, this will happen by mid-April. Should this be achieved earlier, then we would advocate an even earlier reopening.
Not to delay the return of the minimal-risk outdoor sector if vaccination setbacks occur that delay the reopening of the higher-risk indoor sector
Signal that busking should be allowable again with immediate effect
Seize the opportunity to use the outdoor performing arts sector to kickstart the nation's cultural rebirth
Mission accomplished: Save Carol Singing!
To launch Out To Perform, we set out to Save Carol Singing, as we realised Covid Tier restrictions would unintentionally mean no carol singing this year. To save this important part of the nation's spirit, we launched a national campaign combining:
1. an Open Letter to Secretary of State Oliver Dowden signed by 20 people embodying the spirit of the nation;
2. a PR campaign that got 22 broadcast interviews and 6 major print articles in national media; and
3. a Westminster lobbying campaign to bring pressure upon the government from behind the scenes.
We wanted the government to follow its own science by recognising that outdoor music making is safer than indoors, and thus make carol singing legal in all Tiers, even where indoor music making would be prohibited. We also wanted the government to remove the legal requirement for performers to stop audiences joining in (even when safely socially-distanced) – and make a positive statement to encourage safe carol singing to happen.
We were thrilled that the government accepted nearly all our recommendations in what the Telegraph described as a U-Turn attributed to our campaign, and published specific guidance for carol singing in the Christmas regulations (in England), with the PM himself going on the record to say he'd personally championed the change.
In response, we distilled 100 pages of legislation and regulations, to publish a Guide to Safe Carol Singing to bring reassurance and best practice for the estimated 100,000 people who sang carols this December as a result.
Join the conversation now
The pandemic has ripped through the entire vertical of the sector, from organisations through to freelancers. Much of the sector relies upon venues where social distancing makes it impossible to make work economically. Even after a vaccine is introduced, we estimate it will take 12-18 months before social distancing measures can be removed. We're here to find medium-term solutions.
To unleash new performance opportunities outdoors across the sector by lobbying for safe regulatory easement, creating partnerships and helping artistes to earn
A changed national narrative, whereby we accept that the best way for the performing arts to survive over the next 6-18 months is by focusing on an outside-first mentality
More performances will happen, more people will experience the thrill of live performance, more artists will be able to earn income from their livelihood
©Lloyd Winters / English National Opera
What we do
Remove unnecessary regulation and champion the "Right To Perform"
Bring together landowners/hospitality sector to create economic synergy with performing arts organisations and artistes
©Busk in london
Advise venues, producers and artistes on how to make the most of the new opportunities
We're here for the entire industry
The performing arts is an eco-system – helping one part helps everyone else
©Mark Allen / London Symphony Orchestra
Venues, Producers & Organisations
We represent venues, producers and organisations to help change the landscape to enable them to make the most of the opportunities by performing outside.
Landowners, Restaurants & PubCos
We believe there's great potential for synergy between the performing arts and landowners and businesses – and we want to help you create the partnerships that generates value and creates jobs for both sides.
Artistes & Freelancers
Every individual has the ability to motivate others and inspire true change. Join us on our mission to change the national narrative, to enable more work to be created for the tens of thousands of artistes and freelancers throughout the performing arts. Whether you're a musician, actor, dancer, circus artiste or other performer, we're all in the same boat. But we also don't want to forget that the army of freelancers behind the artiste which the audience doesn't see, but whose future livelihood is also at stake.
Who we are
Stuart Barr, CEO
Stuart spent 20 years in the music industry as an international conductor and singing expert. He was musical director to Dame Shirley Bassey for 6 years, was chair of the London Youth Choir and a former President of the British Voice Association. After an MBA at Cambridge 4 years ago, he founded nSpireMe to develop AI technology to make children's practice more effective and fun; and more recently Parcel.Love to send delicious hand-made cakes, biscuits & photo greetings cards to friends and family during the lockdown.
Kate Jones, Partnerships
Kate Jones is a producer, project manager and consultant who has worked across the public, private and broadcast sectors. With many years experience in the cultural and creative industries, Kate has worked with clients in both the public and corporate worlds to deliver public facing activations, strategies, campaigns and events. For the last five years, Kate has held the role of Programme Director for Busk in London, a non-profit making programme supported by the Mayor of London that creates, curates and manages high quality, busking style performances for private landowners, property developers and corporate organisations.
Madelaine Bennett, Publicist
Want to join our team? Drop us a a brief message outlining why you'd like to join the team.
Declan Costello, Consultant ENT Surgeon
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, CEO UK Music
Zoë Curnow, Exec Director, The Minack Theatre
Louis Hartshorn, Theatre Producer
For Press Enquiries, please call 07973 379147 in the first instance.