COVID 19 FAQ's
Why open in November?
The Government’s Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme ends in October and as a business we have the financial pressures to cover our staff and overhead costs with very limited income streams. We have planned a number of different scenarios to reopen the Torch and currently if it is safe to do so, it makes sense to run with cinema only with a socially distanced capacity for the rest of the year.
From speaking with the film distributors, they are currently planning to release the major films in the Autumn. It gives us some confidence that people will want to see these films on the big screen. Cinemas have been given the green light to open by the Government providing both Covid-19 health & safety and social distancing measures are in place.
Why operate cinema only from November?
The Government’s 5-Stage plan for live events is currently at stage 4 meaning that indoor events at a reduced capacity can happen. There is a risk that Covid-19 could be spread in a confided space such as a theatre, especially through live performance. The costs of running a theatre production are high and we would require at least 70% capacity to break even with a theatre performance. Social distancing currently doesn’t allow us to operate at anywhere near a 70% capacity. Operationally and for the safety of our patrons, staff and volunteers if makes more sense to operate with cinema only until the risk levels are significantly reduced.
Other cinemas are already open, why isn’t the Torch?
The early financial and customer reports from UK cinema to date are not promising. Classic films have been screened and the demand to see these films is not currently there. We would rather wait for the blockbuster films (James Bond, Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984, Secret Garden and more) to be released before reopening. Feedback from our patrons as part of a national audience survey suggests that they are prepared to wait and they are looking for reassurance about the building being Covid-19 safe before returning to venues like ours. We are also undertaking essential maintenance and repairs to the building which need to be complete before we re-open.
Why is Pantomime cancelled?
The Torch under Covid-19 regulations cannot financially operate with a restricted number of seats in its auditorium. We would require at least 70% capacity of the main auditorium to break even and the financial risk to the theatre is too high. We also have to consider the costs and transport restrictions placed upon our local schools. Having a large cast and production team also puts us at risk if there was an outbreak of Covid-19. If one cast member came down with symptoms of Covid-19, the whole team would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
When will live theatre return?
We hope in early 2021 but this is on Government advice, reduced social distancing measures and a decline in Covid-19 cases.
For further information on Covid-19 visit the Welsh Government website here.
What if I have a ticket for a theatre show?
We are in the process of moving as many shows as possible into 2021. Our Box Office team will be contacting relevant customers. Customers can have a full refund of the value of their ticket; they can choose to put the value on to a loyalty card to be used at a later date; they can transfer the value to another show; or they can donate the value to the Torch Theatre. Some shows due to programming logistics will not return in 2021. Please bear with us through this process, our Box Office team will be in touch. Our phone lines currently remain unanswered and we are only occasionally checking Box Office voicemails.
What happens if the Torch cannot reopen in November?
The financial risk of maintaining our workforce is high and without further financial support we will have to look at reducing our staffing numbers. We have prepared for a number of different scenarios through financial modelling which will take us to the end of the financial year. Until it is completely safe for our patrons, staff, volunteers and artists to return, and it is financially viable to operate, the Torch could remain closed until at least Spring 2021.
What is the Torch doing to protect the safety of its customers when open?
The safety our patrons, our staff and our volunteers remain the priority of the theatre. Operational staff members are closely monitoring the latest Government guidance whilst working with our fellow industry peers in providing relevant information about our plans to be a Covid-19 secure venue. Our capacity will be reduced, working within social distancing guidelines. Relevant signage, protection, including hand sanitisers, and operating systems will also be maintained following guidance from our industry bodies and the Welsh Government. All staff and volunteers will undertake further training, so they are Covid-19 ready to come back to work. Staff and volunteers will also work shifts in bubbles.
It is acknowledged that disabled people are more vulnerable to coronavirus. What has the Torch done and/or will do to make sure that disabled people like me (including staff, volunteers and customers) have been considered and can feel safe returning to the building?
We are currently speaking to the Welsh Government, Arts Council Wales, Disability Arts Cymru and access support groups including HYNT for further advice on how we can safely welcome disabled and more vulnerable patrons back to the theatre. Once we have received this guidance, we will immediately update our policies accordingly and make appropriate changes within the venue. The health and safety of our patrons is our number one priority and we look forward to welcoming them back to the Torch as soon as possible once it is safe to do so.
For further information, please visit the following websites:
Disability Arts Cymru https://www.disabilityartscymru.co.uk
Arts Wales https://arts.wales
What capacity can the Torch operate at currently under Government restrictions?
Our capacity will be significantly reduced whilst social distancing remains in place. Both auditorium’s capacity will vary in accordance to the Welsh Government’s social distancing measures (currently 2 metres distance apart). The size of social group bookings will also impact upon this.
Why repair the fly tower in August and September?
With our plan to remain closed until at least November it makes perfect sense to carry out such a big job without causing disruption to our programme. The weather is also predicted to be calmer in August and September. If we took out this major bit of work after this period we would have to wait until Spring 2021 once the weather has improved and we would remain closed until then.
Will Café Torch reopen?
At the moment, no. The floor space in Café Torch is small and we can only have a very limited number of customers in the building at one time. The kitchen area is also too small to maintain social distancing and to provide an efficient service to our customers. We will be opening one kiosk area in the theatre which will provide snacks and refreshments.
What can I do to help?
Please be patient with us, we are doing everything we can to reopen in a safe manner.
The Torch Theatre is a not-for-profit registered charity, if you can support us, however big or small, please consider making a donation here: https://www.torchtheatre.co.uk/support-the-torch
Please also considering lobbying your local MP by writing to them to tell them how much the theatre and the arts means to you, especially in this part of Pembrokeshire.
If you do need to get in contact with us, please email email@example.com