Over the past four months every aspect of the world as we have known it has changed, and the Traverse Theatre, alongside individuals and organisations globally, has had to adapt rapidly to new ways of working and being.
As with so many organisations in the arts sector, the Traverse Theatre relies upon ticket sales, hire fees, hospitality sales and fundraising to sustain its outputs, and has therefore lost two-thirds of its earned income since 21 March.
We greatly welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent announcement of the Performing Arts Relief Fund, made available to organisations across the country, and for which we are currently in the process of applying.
However, as we are unable to open our performance spaces to audiences whilst social distancing continues, and with many of our vital income streams being unavailable, it isn’t financially viable for the Traverse to present performances in the format with which we have all been familiar. We simply wouldn’t have enough seats safely available to cover our costs, or be able to offer affordable tickets. We don’t know how long this is likely to be the case, but at present, we anticipate being closed to audiences until the end of 2020 at the earliest; it seems almost unfathomable, but it is our reality.
This extreme impact of COVID-19 on our operations means that to ensure the Traverse exists long into the future, continuing to develop artists and delight audiences for many years to come, we must restructure the organisation, remodel our work and reduce costs to ensure our survival.
We have therefore had to make the painfully difficult decision to enter into redundancy consultation with a number of our team in customer-facing and technical roles, with the likelihood that almost a third of our staff will be made redundant. We have worked tirelessly to explore all possible avenues and prevent this awful situation, but we currently have no other choice in order to protect the future of the Traverse and the vibrant organisation on which our community relies.
This will leave the Traverse with a small core grouping, who are tasked with creating opportunities for our organisation to come back stronger and to oversee delivery across our work in engagement, talent development and creativity.
Every member of our team is creative, compassionate and incredibly hard-working, and to lose any of them is both professionally and personally devastating. They have displayed endless patience, passion and understanding throughout this unparalleled time, and we could not be more grateful to them.
The Traverse remains committed to a future of developing writers and supporting creatives at all stages of their careers, discovering new voices by engaging with our community, audiences and freelance artists, here in our city and across the globe. Your support so far has meant the world to us, and we hope that you will continue to join us in shaping the future of the Traverse Theatre as we evolve and emerge. We will look different in the future, but we are determined that the Traverse and its spirit will survive for generations to come, both onstage and online.
- Sir John Elvidge, Chair of the Traverse Theatre Board and Linda Crooks, CEO