Curtain up on London's Arts Scene with Theatre, Concerts and Exhibitions

Publish Time:2020-12-09

【Introduction】:The capital s creative industries are back in business today — and are desperately trying to make up for lost time and money in this crucial Christmas period.

The capital's creative industries are back in business today — and are desperately trying to make up for lost time and money in this crucial Christmas period. Despite the hope of a return to normality brought by the vaccine rollout beginning next week, many arts organisations still face closure or extreme financial pressure due to months of lockdown measures.

Here is how you can support the arts in London under Tier 2 regulations.


Among the hardest hit are London’s theatres with their traditional bumper Christmas season badly affected by the limits capping audiences at 1,000 people or 50 per cent, whichever is less.

The audience cap is already coming under pressure from the industry who say it is crippling their finances and want it raised further.

West End legend Michael Ball said the “arbitrary” limits must be “revisited” by the Government. Ball, who is appearing in the new staged concert version of Les Miserables opening on Friday (5th) opposite Carrie Hope Fletcher and Alfie Boe, said he would not return to work if he did not think it was safe. He said: “I’ve seen the extraordinary amount of time, ingenuity and financial investment that has gone into ensuring our theatres are safe to return to for both audiences and the people who work in them. “I wouldn’t want to return to them myself if I wasn’t confident every precaution had been taken but every venue is different and a random figure of a maximum 50% is, in my opinion, too arbitrary and should be revisited. “Of course I want as many people as possible to enjoy the wonderful work that has gone on in my industry safely and to show that we are responsible, indomitable and most definitely viable.”

Nica Burns, who owns several West End theatres including the Apollo and the Garrick, opened her venues at a loss before the second lockdown and said she too wanted to see the capacity raised.

It comes after impresario Cameron Mackintosh said the audience limits would put the new performances of Les Miserables under “massive strain”. The show had been planned to play to audiences of 757 but that has been further reduced to under 600 which Mackintosh said would turn a show that would have broken even into “a substantial loss”.

The Government has promised to review the tier system every 14 days but even if London was downgraded into tier 1 the 50 per cent limit would remain and a move into tier 3 would see theatres closed completely. The DCMS said it had taken the latest scientific and medical advice into account when deciding on the limits but said the cap would stay under review.

Other shows opening complete with capacity caps include A Christmas Carol at the Dominion Theatre, starring ex-EastEnder Jacqueline Jossa, which opens on Monday (dec 7) and Drag Queen crime comedy Death Drop which opens on Friday at the Garrick.

The Bridge Theatre, by City Hall, is also putting on a performance of A Christmas Carol which opens on December 3.

The National Theatre is re-opening next Friday (11) with its pantomime Dick Whittington with the London Palladium pantomime opening the day after.


Tate Modern and Tate Britain both reopen today but all visitors are asked to book times tickets online in advance. No group visits are allowed and masks must be worn in the galleries which have an arranged one way system built in. Cloakrooms are closed and no paper maps or trails will be given out and there are no guided tours.

The National Gallery also opens today and is running a ticketing scheme. Visitors will get their first chance to see a new display by Artist in Residence Rosalind Nashashibi and its 25th annual Take One Picture exhibition featuring work by primary school children.

The Wallace Collection opens a day later (Thursday 3) and is also limiting access with a ticketing scheme though visitors can book in person if availability allows.

The Serpentine Gallery opens on Saturday (dec 5) with an exhibition dedicated to New York painter Jennifer Packer.

The Saatchi Gallery near Sloane Square opens next Wednesday.


Like galleries, museums may open in Tier 2 but must adhere to social distancing measures and rules, which will mean smaller capacity.

All of the main London venues - including the Science Museum - will open on Thursday.

The British Museum is to reopen in time for its Great Court’s 20th anniversary on Sunday. Earlier this week, the institution revealed 113 million people have now walked under the famous glass roof.

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