Perth set to make venues' staff redundant

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Horsecross Arts, the charity that runs Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre for Perth and Kinross Council which have been closed since mid-March in the Covid lockdown, is preparing to make redundancies.

About 50 full-time and 70 part-time staff may be affected by the consultation process as the government’s job protection schemes wind down, in what interim chair Steven Stewart said was a “painful last resort”. Since the two venues closed they have suffered a 70% loss of revenue.

Most of the 168 staff employed by the charity and the venues are now on furlough, but the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to wind down and close completely by 31 October 2020.  With an increase in employer contributions under the scheme from August, no clarity over when the curtain will rise on music and theatre performances, and continued uncertainty and Covid-19 restrictions impacting the economic viability of live performance, the charity was facing a financial cliff-edge by November Stewart said.

"This is a painful last resort and a decision we were forced to take after all other options were exhausted” he said. “Even with the government support and some public funding, we rely on ticket sales, our conference business, and our cafes and bars to meet our monthly outgoings. We’ve done everything possible to cut costs and protect our staff, including freezing non-essential expenditure, deferring payments where possible, and ensuring our people are covered by the government's Job Retention Scheme. With no clear picture as to when and how our venues will be able to open again, the board had no alternative but to take these steps now.”         

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