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London NYE Celebrations and West End Shows Among UK Events Cancelled

London NYE Celebrations and West End Shows Among UK Events Cancelled


London fireworks display usually lights up the Thames at the turn of each new year. // image via BBC

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time again; the whole nation is waiting with bated breath to hear what Boris Johnson has to say about the current Covid situation and the events cancelled.

While it is not yet clear whether there will be harsher restrictions put in place for Christmas day and thereafter, we do know that London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations and a string of West End shows are among the list of events to have been cancelled due to rising cases of the new Omicron variant.

Of the 46 full members of the Society of London Theatre that had shows running, 22 scrapped performances. This includes some of the biggest shows in the West End such as Hamilton, Matilda, Wicked and The Lion King.

Producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh spoke to the BBC and admitted that the industry was in a “dreadful state.”

He said, “It’s literally day-to-day. We spend all morning trying to work out if we can do the show or not… we desperately need the government to step in and help the commercial theatre, because by and large the commercial theatre hasn’t had any help at all across the pandemic… We’ve all used our reserves to get the shows back up. At the point that we’re trying to recoup some of our losses, we are in a dreadful state at the moment.”

Sir Cameron’s statement reinforces the fact that while many sectors have benefitted from government funding, the Arts has yet again slipped through the net. The majority of commercial theatres, including the mainstream West End and big regional venues that host hit shows, were not eligible for the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

The impact of which has been devastating, with stage crew, actors and producers being just a handful of people to have either lost their jobs or have had virtually no source of income while Covid restrictions continue.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told the BBC: “Our unprecedented £2bn Culture Recovery Fund has given out £1.5bn in grants and loans, and almost £200m to the devolved administrations.

“The £300m third round of the Culture Recovery Fund is still open for applications, providing vital ongoing support for the cultural, heritage and creative sectors… We will keep the delivery of the programme under active review and consider how best to adapt it in line with the needs of the sector.”

So, again, no solid guidance on whether this funding will actually help out theatres.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also announced that the much-anticipated New Year’s Eve celebrations, an event planned for 6,500 key workers and members of the public to see in 2022, has also been scrapped “in the interests of public safety.”

This announcement comes after it has been revealed that Coronavirus hospital admissions in London recently rose by 29% in a week, according to official data, with Mr Khan saying that the goal is to “ensure our NHS services are not overwhelmed this winter.”

The mayor acknowledged that this news is disappointing but has assured that there will still be a “live broadcast spectacular celebrating our city and highlighting the most defining moments of 2021.” Oh great, we’ve already lived through the horrors of the past year and now we get to see it all again in a broadcast.

In latest news, the prime minister held an unscheduled cabinet meeting yesterday, where his senior ministers were presented with Omicron data by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

Boris said he was not announcing any further restrictions on Monday after the cabinet meeting but “reserved the possibility” to do so as ministers keep the data under review “hour by hour”.

At the moment, possible options are as follows:

  • Option one: Guidance asking people to limit indoor contacts.
  • Option two: Rules on household mixing, social distancing and a curfew.
  • Option three: A full lockdown.

Another option is to wait a few more days and to announce a two-week “circuit breaker” just before the New Year.

While half the country waits to hear what the rules will be this Christmas, it seems that the other half simply don’t care anymore, especially given the recent revelations concerning the Downing Street party. It appears that for the moment, all we can do now is hope for a better 2022… and a new prime minister.

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