Coronavirus: Three-quarters of comedy venues ‘could shut in next year’ without financial help

Isobel Lewis
·2-min read
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Getty Images

Nearly 80 per cent of comedy clubs could close in the next year, a new report has suggested.

With comedy venues forced to stay shut due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe being cancelled, a study conducted by the Live Comedy Association has found that the industry is “on the brink of collapse” and risks being overlooked by the government’s arts support package.

According to the survey, one third of live comedy venues say that they will be forced to close in the next six months without business, while 77.8% believe that they will be gone in a year.

With venues closed, some comedians have turned to online gigs, but this has not proven to be a steady source of income for most.

Over three-quarters of the performers surveyed have earnt less than five per cent of their pre-pandemic estimated income through this method, leaving many unsure about their future in the industry.

In fact, 45 per cent admitted to giving “serious thought” to leaving the profession for good due to the impact the pandemic has had on their earnings and mental health.

Speaking about the future of comedy, LCA chair Chair Brid Kirby told BBC News that small venues were “the bedrock of the entire industry”, saying: “All of the household names will have started in those clubs. The risk of those clubs disappearing therefore poses a risk that we could lose a whole new generation of voices from the industry.”

On Sunday (5 July), Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced a £1.57bn for the arts industry after months of campaigning from workers who claimed that they wouldn’t survive without cash from the government.

Unveiling the plan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the money would help safeguard the arts for “future generations”.

However, some campaigners said that the move was “too little, too late”, with the National Theatre having already told 400 casual staff members, including front of house and backstage workers, that they would be made redundant in August.