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Culture Secretary confirms arts venues can remain open for rehearsals

Venues are ‘places of work’ and will therefore be permitted to remain open, he said.

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The Old Vic Theatre (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Old Vic Theatre (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Old Vic Theatre (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Culture Secretary has confirmed arts venues can remain open for rehearsals during the lockdown.

Oliver Dowden said while audiences will not be able to attend the venues they are “places of work” and will therefore be able to remain open.

Footage of performances taking place inside venues will also be permitted to be streamed online when tougher restrictions come into force in England, he confirmed on Twitter.

“Arts venues are places of work, so people can come into them for work, if it cannot be undertaken from home,” he wrote.

“This includes rehearsals and performance. Audiences are not permitted.”

He made the comments after the Theatres Trust called for “urgent clarification” on Sunday as to whether rehearsals for Christmas productions, including pantomimes, can go ahead.

A number of productions, including Les Miserables in the West End and a panto at the London Palladium, are due to return to the stage with socially distanced audiences over the festive period.

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London Palladium (Johnny Green/PA)

London Palladium (Johnny Green/PA)

London Palladium (Johnny Green/PA)

Mr Dowden previously confirmed TV and film production will be able to continue during the lockdown period.

After the lockdown was confirmed by Boris Johnson, he tweeted: “As the Prime Minister has just confirmed we will be taking additional restrictions from Thursday. We understand the anxiety & impact these will have, and will ensure they last not a day longer than necessary.

“The changes mean people should WFH where possible. But where this is not possible, travel to a place of work will be permitted – e.g. this includes (but not exhaustive) elite sport played behind closed doors, film & tv production, telecoms workers.”

The Government is currently distributing a £1.57 billion funding package to the arts.

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