SOLT & UK Theatre welcome the Economic Estimates data published by DCMS. The findings of both the reduction in roles and increasing vacancy rate is alarming and reflective of what is happening in the theatre sector. A snap poll in April of our members reveal they anticipate a three-fold increase in freelance vacancies and over 70% increase in permanent vacancies over the coming year. These vacancy rates make it more difficult for them to make, produce and showcase world-class theatre.
We welcome the report’s call to deliver growth in the industry by “increasing employment”. Apprenticeships and other technical qualifications have the potential to improve and widen access to off stage careers. We have a number of concerns regarding the current apprenticeship system and call for a flexible skills fund to replace the apprenticeship levy to make apprenticeships more financially viable for employers in the creative and cultural sector. SOLT & UK Theatre has asked that the government do more to promote awareness of apprenticeships amongst young people and mid-career workers. We are currently working on guidance for members, highlighting the many apprenticeship opportunities currently available in areas where there are transferable skills
Increasing access to theatre can also help our industry address skills gaps, by exposing the diverse range of careers available to new audiences. But we know that the challenges relating to cost-of-living are making access less equal: children from low-income familiars are missing out because they are less likely to have cultural experiences out of school and teachers and parents are reporting a reduction in school trips of up to 68% compared to last year, which includes theatre visits. This is why we have launched our Theatre for Every Child campaign. Ahead of the next general election in 2024, we ask all political parties to commit to fund a theatre visit for every child before they leave school.