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#BackOnStage: London theatres celebrate reopening doors to visitors

London theatres have launched an online campaign to celebrate reopening their doors, since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Venues and companies across the UK”s capital have urged theatre-goers to use the hashtag #BackOnStage on social media, as part of the initiative.

Launched by the non-profit Society of London Theatre (SOLT), people are being encouraged to share experiences after watching their first post-lockdown theatre performance. The campaign will also feature public advertising from across London.

“It’s been a real collaborative process,” said Emma De Souza, the head of Marketing and Communications for SOLT.

“We felt that audiences were going to be our best ambassadors, so we wanted to share that magic and excitement of being in live theatre again.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the theatre industry across Europe, with many venues closed for most of the last 13 months.

UK stages, which collectively employ an estimated 300,000 people, were ordered to shut one week before the country went into full lockdown, in March 2020.

In July, the UK announced a £1.57 billion (€1.73 billion) rescue package for the arts, culture, and heritage industries, described as “the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture”.

Under current deconfinement plans, British venues can reopen with social distancing measures from Monday, before full audiences can return no earlier than 21 June.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the plan to fully reopen theatres could be delayed if the new Indian strain of the coronavirus leads to a surge in cases.

But hospitality and entertainment venues say they won’t be able to make money until they can open at full capacity.

SOLT has stated all theatres that reopen from Monday will display an industry-recognised “See It Safely” mark to assure audiences they are operating in line with the latest guidelines.

“Theatres are really managed spaces at the best of times,” De Souza told Euronews

“All the theatres that are reopening have had a chance to test out their systems and it does run like clockwork.”

“Front of house staff will be there to ensure that everybody is playing their part.”

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also launched a new “Let’s Do London” to encourage citizens to promote the city’s hospitality sector.

“Theatres have done amazing things, reaching out and staying connected with their audiences on social media, but there is nothing like being there,” De Souza said.

“You cannot recreate the magic of live theatre at home.”

Click on the player above to watch Emma De Souza’s interview in The Cube.

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