Covid restrictions force further postponement of theatres return and no panto again this Christmas
The potential for continuing social distancing restrictions for indoor events has led OnFife reluctantly to postpone the return of shows to its four theatres.
And in a further blow, the impact of Covid on the renovation works under way at the Adam Smith Theatre means the much-anticipated break for panto this Christmas will no longer be possible.
“It’s sad to have to be making these decisions again and we share the disappointment of all our customers who had hoped to be back enjoying the fantastic buzz and excitement of live in-person theatre experiences with us again,” said Michelle Sweeney, OnFife’s Director of Creative Development.
“But with an update on whether social distancing constraints will be lifted – which is such an important factor for theatres – not due until August, and so much uncertainty in the interim, we needed to bring clarity on the way forward for theatre promoters, local amateur associations, our communities and our own team members.
“Public health is at the fore of our thinking as our number one commitment is keeping people safe. Likewise is our commitment to providing a quality theatre experience. We are providing a wide range of services online and through our museums and libraries, which we are delighted to have been able to open again. But while social distancing remains in some form, a quality theatre programme is not feasible either financially or in terms of a great experience, which revolves around a bustling theatre environment.”
At the Adam Smith Theatre, the impact of Covid on shortages of materials and the procurement process has led to delays, meaning it is highly unlikely the auditorium will be ready for the panto season. A further knock-on effect has been that halting the work would now potentially jeopardise the reopening target of June 2023 for the Adam Smith Tricentenary celebrations.
However, the continuing closures at Carnegie Hall, Rothes Hall and Lochgelly Centre, will allow theatre upgrades to be carried out on lighting and rigging.
“Investing in this now means we won’t need to close the theatres to carry out this work in the coming years,” Michelle said.
This will mean no programme return before December in either Rothes Halls or Carnegie Hall, while Lochgelly Centre will hopefully be up and running again from October.
“In line with our commitment to support a local return to theatre, we will be offering Lochgelly, which is a great venue, to amateur associations to support them getting their shows back on,” Michelle said.
Looking further ahead, OnFife is once again determined not to let Covid steal Christmas. An outdoor/indoor Christmas show is being developed for Carnegie Hall and the charity is also taking the seasonal celebrations on the road with a travelling Christmas theatre experience across Fife’s communities.
It also wants to work with Fife Council, other cultural enterprises and communities in a collaborative ‘Fife Christmas’, similar in approach to the current successful GoFife Summer Programme.