Sadler’s Wells announces furlough period for casual colleagues will end on 30 September

It is with heavy hearts that we announce today that we will end the furlough period for our casual colleagues on 30 September. At Sadler’s Wells our casual colleagues include 222 people in our Front of House, Catering, Technical, and Ticket Office teams.  

Government support for the furlough scheme, which ends on 31 October, will continue to taper down for its final month, and sadly we are no longer able to fund the contributions required of Sadler’s Wells to keep these colleagues on furlough.  

We have avoided taking this action for as long as possible, and that’s why we have committed to keeping our casual colleagues on our payroll and making the furlough contributions required of Sadler’s Wells until the end of September. 

The devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis has already forced us to enter a consultation period with permanent and fixed term staff, and in addition to the other actions we have taken to reduce cost, this measure has become necessary to ensure the survival of Sadler’s Wells. 

Alistair Director & CEO Alistair Spalding and Executive Director Britannia Morton said: ‘We are deeply saddened to have to make the decision to end the furlough period for our causal colleagues on 30 September. We know that this will be difficult news for all of Sadler’s Wells, especially our casual colleagues who a core part of our community. Many of these colleagues are the people our teams, artists and audiences associate with the Sadler’s Wells experience they know and love. 

As we begin to reopen our buildings and explore projects that can be compliant with social distance requirements this autumn, there will be some opportunities for casual colleagues to be offered opportunities to work. However, we know that this is unlikely to be at the levels before lockdown began. 

We hope that our recent application to the UK government’s Culture Relief Fund will be successful to ensure the survival of the organisation, and that an eventual full reopening of our theatres can enable us to bring back as many of our casual colleagues as possible, as soon as possible. However, continued uncertainty prevents us from being able to make any definitive assurances to these valued colleagues at this time.’ 

Sadler’s Wells Enters Consultation Process with Permanent and Fixed Term Staff 

It is with deep sadness that Sadler’s Wells has entered a consultation process with our permanent and fixed term staff, following the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis on our operations, the continued closure of our theatres and ongoing uncertainty about when we may be able to reopen fully.  

During this period, Sadler’s Wells will consult with all permanent and fixed term staff on proposed organisational change and efficiency measures. These proposals could put 51 permanent or fixed term roles at risk of redundancy or layoff, which represents 26% of our permanent and fixed term workforce. This is in addition to other measures we have and are taking to reduce cost in this time. 

This process will be very difficult for all members of the Sadler’s Wells community. The decision to enter a consultation process has been incredibly hard to make, and one which the organisation has done all it can to avoid. 

Artistic Director & CEO Alistair Spalding said: ‘In my 20 years at Sadler’s Wells and 15 years as its leader, the talent and dedication of our colleagues has been the cornerstone of every success and moment of magic on our stages and off. Every colleague at Sadler’s Wells has played their part in making Sadler’s Wells what it is today, and I am heartbroken that we have to embark on this process. We’ve searched long and hard to avoid having to take this course of action for as long as possible, but given the current situation, and in the face of continued uncertainty, it has become unavoidable.  

The impact of the global pandemic has been devastating for the arts – for organisations like Sadler’s Wells and for the many companies, freelancers and casual staff whose talent and skill is central to our industry. We are committed to doing all we can to play our role in rebuilding the sector, but recognise we can only do so if we get through the current crisis. I never imagined we would be in this position, but thank our colleagues for coming together as a community and for supporting each other as we all face this unprecedented challenge.’ 

Executive Director Britannia Morton said: ‘By closing our theatres and vastly reducing the work we are able to do, the coronavirus crisis has taken away our ability to earn over 80% of our income. We have done all we could to prevent and then delay the need for entering a consultation process. We have furloughed almost 90% of our colleagues through the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, reduced salaries across the organisation, and were successful in receiving a grant from the Arts Council of England’s Culture Recovery Fund, which secures our survival to October. We’re incredibly grateful for all the donations our generous supporters have made to us in this time. We also hope, like the rest of our colleagues in the sector, that Sadler’s Wells will be awarded a lifeline that allows us to stay afloat into 2021 through the UK Government’s arts, culture and heritage rescue package. Despite all of this, the loss of income to date and continuing uncertainty about what’s next has forced us to make this very difficult decision to begin a consultation period, to ensure the survival of Sadler’s Wells and prepare us for the post-coronavirus future.’  

Board of Trustees Chair Nigel Higgins said: ‘We are all very grateful for the way in which the individuals and teams at Sadler’s Wells have responded to the coronavirus crisis. This makes it doubly difficult to be entering into a consultation process to restructure the organisation and reduce the size of our workforce. We have done what we could to avoid this, and are grateful to the Arts Council of England and the UK government for their support. However, with no immediate visibility of reopening and generating income we have no choice but to take this action in order to protect the longer-term future of Sadler’s Wells. We hope for and are working hard to ensure better times for Sadler’s Wells, our staff and wider communities.’