Victoria Theatre boss outlines plans on how audiences will return to the venue
The Victoria Theatre is preparing to open its doors as the country looks ahead to the next major date of roadmap out of lockdown.
From May 17 entertainment venues will be able to open including cinemas and theatres. New rules will be in place for different sizes of venues.
The venue will be able to open for a small-scale and socially distanced programme from May 17, if the road map out of the COVID-19 pandemic is followed.
Calderdale Council’s Theatre and Cultural Programmes Manager, Tim Fagan, said: “As restrictions across the country continue to be eased in line with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, we’re looking ahead to the safe reopening of Calderdale’s arts and cultural organisations.
“We’re excited to welcome visitors back to the Victoria Theatre and are working hard to put the necessary plans and processes in place to reopen safely, whilst ensuring the experience is as welcoming as possible.
“Using funding from the Arts Council Culture Recovery Grant, initial performances at the Victoria Theatre will be socially distanced, with a series of safety measures in place. This will include adapted seating in the auditorium, one-way systems, refreshment pre-ordering and service to your seat, enhanced cleaning and hand sanitiser stations.
"Audiences will also be required to wear masks and to check-in via the NHS Track and Trace QR code upon entry. As always, wheelchair users and carers will be fully accommodated, and special consideration will be given to visitors with access requirements.
“To reassure audiences further, the theatre is offering refunds up to 24 hours in advance of socially distanced events, should customers be unable to attend due to reasons associated with COVID.
“We know how much people have missed the live theatre experience and to welcome visitors back we’ve planned a series of comedy focussed events that will help raise the spirits of our community and provide much-needed laughs after a tough year.”
In her report being presented at the meeting of the full Calderdale Council, Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park) said although the 1,500 seat – 1,800 standing – theatre, at Fountain Street, Halifax, had been closed to the public since March 2020, a significant amount of work has been carried out to prepare it for reopening.
She said the next landmark date would be June 21 when it is hoped a programme can be followed without social distancing and other restrictions, again dependent on the Government’s road map.
Calderdale Council’s Cultural Services Manager, Bobsie Robinson, said: “Although the arts, heritage and creative sectors are amongst those hardest hit by the pandemic, we also believe that they will be key to the borough’s economic recovery.
“Our cultural and economic recovery programme, including our ‘Year of Culture’ in 2024, will help stimulate the visitor economy, grow the creative / cultural industries and create the basis for a diverse and inclusive economy.
“Our exciting plans for socially distanced events at the Victoria Theatre will take place ahead of our many rescheduled performances, which we know ticket holders are eager to enjoy.
“Elsewhere in the borough, Gentleman Jack continues to inspire interest in Shibden Hall and with the second series currently being filmed, and our plans to celebrate the Hall’s 600th birthday this year when it’s safe to do so, we expect this to increase.
"The record value of tourism in Calderdale and high numbers of visitors to our museums just before COVID-19, brings real hope for the sector’s recovery from the pandemic.
“There’s much to be optimistic about and, along with our partner organisations, we’re working to harness the power of our unique culture and heritage to revitalise our town centres and rebuild our economy and identity.”