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How you can help the London theatre community during the lockdown period

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

With England plunged into its third lockdown in a year, it's fair to say the West End has never seen a time like this. Theatres remain shut, live performances continue to be postponed and West End shows playing to a full capacity audience seems like a distant future.

Although efforts of a Culture Recovery Fund supported theatres nationwide and streaming services have donated money to charitable initiatives, the theatre community needs all the support it can get.

From global stars, renowned creatives to the budding performers vying for their big break, there's thousands of individuals that need your help. If you're in a position where you can support the theatre community, here's some great ways that you can get involved while ensuring everyone's safety.

Donate directly to theatres

As mentioned, lots of London's theatres have been financially supported by the Culture Recovery Fund. From this fund, theatres were able to reopen their doors to the public after lockdown, staging socially distant shows while staying afloat. However, fundraising initiatives from London theatres are an ongoing process. Donate directly to theatres and support your favourite venues to ensure their sustained livelihood.

Here's some London theatres that you can donate to:

Almeida Theatre
Barbican Centre
Bush Theatre
Hampstead Theatre
Kiln Theatre
King's Head Theatre
National Theatre
Old Vic
Pleasance Theatre
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
Royal Court Theatre
Sadler's Wells
Shakespeare's Globe
Soho Theatre
Southbank Centre
Southwark Playhouse
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Young Vic

Buy venue memberships

If you've found yourself heading to the same theatre time and time again, have you considered purchasing a theatre membership? For just a small fee (different for each theatre and respective level) you'll unlock extra benefits from the venue, including pre-sale tickets, talks and exclusive events. Why not gift a venue membership to someone special, so you can enjoy an incredible theatre trip together once lockdown is over.

Donate to theatre charities

When deciding a charity to donate to, the plethora of charities can feel overwhelming. There are theatre-related charities designed to support creatives, whose work has dried up as a direct consequence of the pandemic.

The main charities include Acting for Others which offers financial and emotional support to all industry members and the Actors' Benevolent Fund providing one-off emergency grants.

In 2020, the Theatre Support Fund+ was set up, directly raising money for the NHS Covid-19 appeal. Buy your very own collection of theatrical merchandise, featuring artwork from 16 West End shows, or even purchase a ticket to The Shows Must Go On at the Palace Theatre, opening in March 2021.

Exchange your ticket for a future date

Sadly, the global pandemic and lockdown rules has meant that London shows have been postponed. If you've got tickets to a cancelled performance and you're able to, donate your ticket cost to the theatre rather than accepting a refund. Or, if it's possible, exchange your ticket for a future performance instead of asking for the money back. At least you'll have a performance to look forward to once shows are back on!

Read here for a full list of London productions affected by Coronavirus.

Fill your diary with theatre streams

As live theatre in England cannot take place in person, there's plenty of virtual offerings. As well as streaming services like Netflix having a variety of filmed musicals and documentaries, streaming services have been created in 2020 designed to keep audiences in touch with the West End. As well as services like LIVR and Stage2View, there's channels devoted to venues such as National Theatre at Home.

There's also free options too, courtesy of The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel with weekly shows and concerts. It's heavily encouraged to donate if you watch too.

Stay in touch with theatre stars

Just because you can't see your favourite star on stage, doesn't mean you have to be apart from them for long. If you hear that there's an Instagram concert going on, make sure you tune in and watch. Get involved in conversations on Twitter and be a part of the conversations taking place each day. That way, you'll feel like you're on the front row of the latest show, even though you're staying at home.

Support creatives in new initiatives

Speaking of staying connected with performers and creatives, why not support them in their new initiatives? For example, Waitress star Peter Hannah has tapped into his artistic side, starting a small business of theatre prints.

Stream songs and download albums

As well as West End credits, many actors have released EPs and albums over the years. Change up your listening habits and stream songs from acclaimed performers like Michael Ball, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Sheridan Smith, covering musical hits and top 40 tracks.

Book for future shows

Okay, we don't know when theatres are going to open to the public again. But, if you're like us and you want to be the first ones back through the door, make sure you book your tickets to future productions like Sister Act and Cinderella now.

Photo credit: Tower Bridge (Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash)

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