Hands Up Who’s Looking Forward to Tier II?
First of all, we’re so sorry for not releasing videos for the last couple of Fridays. I’ve been home-schooling for fourteen days following a positive test result in Mini Sardines’ class. However, all is now well and back to normal as schools thankfully appear to be operating as usual.
And right now, here we are with just 13½ hours to go before Greater London – just like many other areas of the country – enters ‘Tier II’ of the Government’s new restrictions. Greater Manchester should be entering the highest level – Tier III – with the even further tightening but, last night, Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham, was opposing such a move by literally refusing to follow any formal guidelines. Goodness knows where all this is leading…
It’s chaos out there!
The problem is thanks to devolution, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own sets of rules and, with England’s local areas now also split into one of three tiers, the situation is more confusing than ever. Where one set of circumstances might be possible in one region, in another that might not be the case. Even in London where we are, the thirty-two boroughs all have differing levels of infection – some very low. But, everybody has to conform universally… and we’re only moving into the second tier. What happens if we need to enter full lockdown again?
At Sardines it’s not our job to get political – there is no end of media and news outlets to do that. But it’s as if the Government wants to bamboozle us; to muddy the waters to such a state that people simply ‘surrender’.
Getting back to ‘theatre’… it seems that professional productions already setup to employ social distancing and hygiene measures are able to continue in Tiers I and II. However, if you’re an amateur – which directly concerns us – things are not so straight forward. We DON’T think that ‘hobbyists’ will be able to meet in Tier II in order to rehearse and/or perform indoors. Outdoor venues may not offer the same set of restrictions. However, with the weather getting colder with the onset of Autumn, outdoors is getting to be far from ideal. Of course, if areas then move into Tier III, all of the current regulations may go out of the window.
With all the localized curfews and restrictions in place, if you know any better; if your society, company or charity understands its specific restrictions, then please let us know at [email protected] There is an exemption to Tier II which talks about “volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable services” which may possibly provide a path for some groups to consider but, with everybody making this up as we’re going, these quickly-drawn-up rules will always provide the odd point to pick apart. It all comes down to public confidence doesn’t it – and that is surely at an all-time low right now.
Ironically, the current tightening up of restrictions follows the announcement that Qdos is indeed planning to bring pantomime productions – of sorts – to the London Palladium and other venues around the country. This is all thanks to a deal with National Lottery which is offering to foot the bill and pay for all those empty seats where social distancing won’t allow people to sit… if only we amateurs could enjoy such spoils!
Whether tickets are snapped up by the public of course, we shall have to wait and see, but if your idea of a night out at a pantomime is an atmosphere generated by 25% audience capacity, while wearing a face covering throughout – and possibly not even being allowed to shout out (!?) – then we wish you well. It certainly doesn’t sound like a great family trip does it, and it doesn’t look like initial ticket prices are setup to reflect the lowered product on offer – with the cost of a single seat at the Palladium setting you back up to £129! With the talents of Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot, Ashley Banjo & Diversity, Charlie Stemp, Beverley Knight and Jac Yarrow being announced, the regular festive treat of adult humour could possibly drive families away.
The other piece of ‘arts’ news that came out this week was also the successful recipients of the Government’s £1.57billion bailout scheme (Culture Recovery Fund) of grants and emergency funding for the sector. A myriad of professional companies have been listed among those to receive essential funding such as Bristol Old Vic Theatre (£610,466), Chickenshed (£106,303), Curve, Leicester (£950,000) and Young Vic, London (£961,455)… among many others. Compared to the professionals there are a handful of non-professional institutions that have also been awarded money such as South London Theatre (£87,000), Crescent Theatre, Birmingham (£215,000) and Stables Theatre and Arts Centre, Hastings.
If your non-professional/amateur company, society or charity has received a Government grant – or even a part of the previously announced National Lottery Community Fund – then please do let us know at [email protected] or call 020 8302 7565.