East of England's arts industry fears curtain call

Coronavirus has been devastating for the arts organisations, both in the East of England and across the UK.

Theatres and music venues have been closed for two months now, and the idea of opening back up with social distancing in mind is a logistical and financial nightmare.

Music and entertainment venue The Stables in Milton Keynes has had to postpone more than 250 events so far.

Monica Ferguson, chief executive and artistic director of The Stables Credit: ITV Anglia

Monica Ferguson, chief executive and artistic director said: "I think it's catastrophic. It is very, very difficult for everyone in the industry. I know a lot of people have moved to doing stuff online and digitally, but that's not actually paying the bills for those people."

Just 20 miles up the road is the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton.

Shows like We Will Rock You and Grease have had to be cancelled or rescheduled. Hundreds of staff have been furloughed, and it's unclear when they'll be back.

"It's hard to imagine a socially distanced version of the theatre at the moment," Royal & Derngate chief executive Jo Gordon said. "We're obviously scenario planning what that might look like in our spaces to make sure that if it is feasible that we move forward. But the commercial picture for something like that, it feels largely impossible to run an organisation profitably where you welcome so few people through the doors."

Royal & Derngate chief executive Jo Gordon

The Royal & Derngate told ITV Anglia that 90% of income is from ticket and bar sales, and since closing on the 18th March, that's been wiped out overnight."

A host of smaller venues across the region are in a similar position. Cambridge Junction has been forced to furlough many of its staff, but has thanked customers for donating ticket money to keep the venue going.

Some artists in the Anglia region have continued to try and entertain audiences online.

Comedian Mark Thomas staged a digital version of his show to raise money for venues like the arts centres in Norwich and Colchester.

(From left to right) Robin Ince, Josie Long and Phil Jupiter 'on stage' at the stay at home show

Robin Ince and Josie Long have been holding an online festival - Essex stand up Phil Jupitus performed at their Stay at Home show. The pair are giving donations to performers and theatres.

But the physical venue is, of course, vital for performers. Big name stars like Suffolk songwriter Ed Sheeran got his start by appearing at the Norwich Art Centre.

Variety acts were also due to appear at Cromer's End of Pier Show and Gorleston's Pavillion Theatre, but both have been cancelled.

Norfolk performer Olly Day Credit: ITV Anglia

Entertainer's like Norfolk's Olly Day have also seen work vanish overnight because of the closure of these venues.

"So much work goes into these things. There's so much planning ahead. It's not just like all the artists, the technical people and the people who make the costumes, sets and scenery - it's the acts and we need an audience."

Many people who run some of our favourite cultural attractions have already voiced concerns that they won't make it through.

The Globe Theatre has said it may well go under.

HQ Theatres, which runs the Cliffs Pavilion and Palace in Westcliff, told a Government select committee It looks increasingly likely that a number of theatres (regardless of trust, LA or commercial operation) will close permanently in the short to mid-term.

Without support from the government, arts council and public, the curtain might fall for the arts industry