South Shields' Customs House announces job cuts to 'safeguard its future' amid ongoing uncertainty around reopening

The South Shields theatre has announced jobs cuts as a ‘last resort’ to secure its future.

In an statement on the Customs House website on Monday, July 20, executive director Ray Spencer MBE, confirmed that formal redundancy consultations had begun with staff.

The action is said to be a ‘last resort’ to ‘safeguard the future’ of the Mill Dam venue if current restrictions on trading continue past the end of the furlough scheme.

The venue has not released specific numbers of potential redundancies and Mr Spencer stressed that the process could be stopped if cultural venues were to receive more ‘clarity’ and ‘certainty’ from Government.

The Customs House has announced job cuts to safeguard its future.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

The Customs House – which employs 72 members of staff across the organisation– closed when the lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.

Despite the Prime Minister last week giving the go ahead for theatres to reopen to live audiences from August 1, the social distancing measures required would mean reducing the venue’s capacity by more than half.

Earlier this month Mr Spencer welcomed the Government’s £1.57 billion support package for the arts sector, but fears it won’t be enough to support the many cultural venues impacted by the pandemic across the UK.

Speaking to the Gazette on Tuesday, July 21, he said: “We’re doing the best we can to get the Customs House up and running, but without direction and the ability to trade fully, no business can go on as if nothing has happened.

Advertisement

Hide Ad
Customs House executive director Ray Spencer MBE

"These are awful times for everyone and we will do everything we can to minimise job losses.”

The theatre is hoping to reopen from next month for cinema screenings and outdoor performances.

But a survey of over 1,000 people carried out by the organisation, showed only 40% of regular customers would feel happy to return immediately.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

An announcement is set to be made in August around the 2020 Christmas pantomime Rapunzel.

Mr Spencer added: “The uncertainty about when we can trade fully – and how many people will return when we do – are the two things that have led to us staring these discussions, but we can stop them at any time if we start to receive the guidance and direction we need for Government.”

Read More

Read More
Drone footage shows Customs House illuminated in red to support live entertainme...

A message from the editor:

Advertisement

Hide Ad

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to the Shields Gazette website and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit here to sign up. You can subscribe to the newspaper with 20% off here. Thank you.