Scotland’s leading arts and theatre venues are calling on the Scottish Government to reconsider the "unviable" social distancing requirements currently set to be in place as Covid restrictions ease.

Eleven theatres and performance art venues, including The Traverse Theatre, The Tron, The Festival Theatre, The King's Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen say an "urgent review" is needed - or else significantly more public sector finance will be required to protect the already deeply damaged sector.

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With the furlough scheme ending in September, many freelancers across the sector still excluded from support are desperate for work, and audiences have indicated they are "confident and keen to return", the Consortium has said.

But they say the current two metre requirement makes presenting and producing work "financially unviable" in "almost all contexts."

A recent survey conducted by the Federation of Scottish Theatre showed that 96% of members believe it is "not economically viable for them to reopen while that level of social distancing is required."

That includes 120 organisations across the length and breadth of Scotland.

In addition to the two metre guidance, theatre bosses have raised concerns regarding the lack of a "clear route-map" of when social distancing requirements might be lifted - saying it is having a significantly negative impact on the ability for venues to plan.

In England theatres can open at 50% capacity from 17 May, with a plan for them to return to full capacity from 21 June.

However, Scotland’s performing arts venues have said they urgently need the clarity of a route-map so they can plan accordingly - with many of Scotland's theatres reliant on touring productions that move across the UK.

James Mackenzie-Blackman, Chief Executive of Eden Court Highlands & Chair of the Scottish Touring Theatre Consortium said while the consortium is grateful for government support thus far, more planning is needed for the months ahead.

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He said: “The Scottish Government has a proven track-record of understanding the value that the arts and culture bring to communities the length-and-breadth of our country.

"The consortium is grateful for the intervention of the Cabinet Secretary, and for the reassurance from the First Minister that culture will play a critical role in the nation’s COVID recovery, but that will only be possible if we are able to plan for the months ahead.

"We are a creative and professional sector, confident that we can safely return audiences to our venues.

"We urge the government to recognise that the current guidance on social distancing makes a meaningful re-start of the sector almost impossible and to engage fully with the sector to address this.”

Fiona Sturgeon Shea, Chief Executive of the Federation of Scottish Theatre added: “FST now represents a network of 260 professional performing arts organisations and individuals throughout Scotland

“Every part of that network has been damaged by the impact of COVID, yet is keen and poised to move forward to recovery. We have worked carefully and collaboratively to ensure that the sector is ready to begin making, producing and presenting work for public audiences and participants in as safe and accessible a way as possible.

“With the right regulations, and package of support, the sector will be able to continue making its significant contribution to the cultural, social and economic life of Scotland, as well as health and wellbeing, as part of its recovery and beyond.”

The Scottish Theatre Producing Consortium is made up of the following nationwide venues:

  • Aberdeen Performing Arts (His Majesty’s Theatre, The Music Hall and The Lemon Tree);
  • Eden Court Highlands;
  • Dundee Rep & Scottish Dance Theatre;
  • Pitlochry Festival Theatre;
  • Horsecross Arts (Perth Theatre & Concert Hall);
  • Macrobert Arts Centre;
  • Capital Theatres (The Festival Theatre, The King’s Theatre and The Studio);
  • Traverse Theatre;
  • Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh;
  • The Tron
  • Citizens Theatre.

All Consortium members are also part of the Federation of Scottish Theatre, Scotland’s membership and development body for professional dance, opera and theatre.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: "A new administration is in the process of being formed and the First Minister has been clear the focus will be on recovery from all aspects of the pandemic.

"The First Minister will provide an update on the latest steps out of lockdown on Tuesday.”