Andrew Lloyd Webber leads entertainment sector in pilot event lawsuit

‘Theatre is forced off a cliff while sport can go ahead’: Andrew Lloyd Webber leads entertainment sector in lawsuit to make ministers hand over results of pilot events at music and arts venues

  • Events Research Programme ran test events at sporting, music and arts venues 
  • Several leading entertainment figures have now demanded the results of pilots 
  • Led by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh

Andrew Lloyd Webber has joined others in the entertainment industry in launching legal action to force the Government to hand over the results of its pilot live events.

The Events Research Programme ran test events at sporting, music and arts venues to assess the safety of large gatherings during the pandemic.

In a statement, the group, which also includes musician Peter Gabriel and theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, accused the Government of ‘making it impossible to plan for any live entertainment business’ by not sharing their findings.

Lord Lloyd Webber said: ‘Last week I rejected the Government’s invitation for Cinderella to be singled out as a last-minute part of the Events Research Programme.

‘Today, with a range of voices from across the theatre and live entertainment industries, we are forced to take it further.

‘We simply must now see the data that is being used to strangle our industry so unfairly.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cinderella star Carrie Hope Fletcher, and Cinderella writer Emerald Fennell (left to right)

The group, which includes musician Peter Gabriel, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, accused the Government of ‘making it impossible to plan for any live entertainment business’ by not sharing their findings

‘The Government’s actions are forcing theatre and music companies off a cliff as the summer wears on whilst cherry-picking high-profile sporting events to go ahead. The situation is beyond urgent.’

Sir Cameron said: ‘Having been forced to close our theatres twice last year, the second time after the Government encouraged reopening for Christmas, losing further millions as a result, a joint insurance scheme to protect us against another enforced closure is vital.

‘Along with most of the commercial theatre we have had absolutely no direct financial help either for our productions or the upkeep of our historic theatres.

‘Opening without any sort of protection is impossible for many producers, live event organisers and theatre buildings across the country.

‘Having contributed huge amounts of money to the exchequer over the last few decades, the theatre desperately needs to be supported in its hour of need or the government will be responsible for the disintegration of one of this country’s most priceless and irreplaceable assets after centuries of being the envy of the world.’

Lord Lloyd-Webber previously said he would have been willing to face arrest by going ahead at full capacity when Cinderella premieres at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre on June 25

Culture minister Nigel Huddleston said earlier this week that if there were ‘major concerns’ about the results of the research programme ‘we would have made sure that information was in the public arena’.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he added: ‘Some of the initial data points were already announced by the secretary of state back in May but the report needs to be comprehensive, it needs to be reviewed by a large number of stakeholders in Government, we will be releasing it very soon indeed.’

A Government spokeswoman said: ‘We understand a delay to full reopening is challenging for live events but we are helping our creative industries and sporting bodies through it.

‘We have made a record £2 billion of support available for culture and £600m for sports, on top of billions more through other government schemes.

‘Our ongoing, groundbreaking Events Research Programme is gathering important evidence to help get all live events, including theatre shows, festivals and gigs, fully back up and running once it is safe to do so.

‘We will publish the results of the programme before the move to Step 4, as we have always promised to. This aligns with the publication commitments for the other road map reviews.’

The Prime Minister wants to allow ‘some theatrical performances’ to go ahead at full capacity before the lifting of remaining restrictions on July 19. 

Up to 20 live event pilots will take place in the four weeks leading up to the deadline, including the Wimbledon singles finals and four Euro 2020 games. 

Lord Lloyd-Webber previously said he would have been willing to face arrest by going ahead at full capacity when Cinderella premieres at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre on June 25. 

But he added that after seeking legal advice he had decided he could not risk the cast, crew and audience members being fined individually. It will now go ahead at 50 per cent capacity.

The Download Festival is among the events taking part in the pilot – and fans braved the rain last week as they turned up for the three-day festival at Donington Park in Leicestershire. 

The capacity has been cut from 111,000 to around 10,000, but attendees do not have to wear masks or social distance.

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