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Theatre Royal director makes pledge as venues prepare to go live




With the potential restart of indoor performances from August 1, Bury St Edmunds venues are preparing with one theatre boss set to forego part of his salary to help.

Owen Calvert-Lyons, CEO and artistic director of the Theatre Royal, said the news was undoubtedly good and the first steps to re-opening should be celebrated.

But he also feared it would take a while for performances to return to the Westgate Street stage, so made a move on Wednesday to try and safeguard jobs.

Owen Calvert-Lyons, took over the role of CEO and artistic director at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds in June.Picture by Mark Westley.
Owen Calvert-Lyons, took over the role of CEO and artistic director at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds in June.Picture by Mark Westley.

He tweeted: “It is so distressing seeing the lowest-paid workers in our industry losing their jobs. So, I’m going to forego 20% of my salary for next 3 months. This sum will cover the cost of furlough contributions for all of our 41 casual staff to ensure they stay in employment. #solidarity.”

The theatre has also raised more than £55,000 with its ‘The Show Will Go On’ campaign, which was launched in June.

In response to Owen’s gesture, The Theatre Royal BSE tweeted: “Our new CEO/Artistic Director has been in the job for 5 weeks and makes this gesture to support our casual staff - we’re glad to have you on-board @Owencl.”

Elsewhere, Nick Pooley, manager of The Hunter Club, in St Andrew’s Street South, also said the announcement of live gigs returning was great on the surface, but still missed clear guidance on how to make the comeback.

He said: “The thing for us is to do it correctly, safely and to give customers confidence. We knew with hosting live performances we were very high risk so it has been difficult waiting for the government on this.

“The acts are very keen to come back, but like us, they want to do it safely too. Gigs take weeks, some even months, to organise so this is not going to be a quick process.

“The next three months will be really telling, not just for us, but for the industry as a whole.”

Supporters of the popular venue are continuing to help the club and have raised around £4,000 so far.

The Apex, in Charter Square, also has no set return date yet but has set up a series of live-streaming shows until it is ready.

On its Facebook page, it has thanked customers for their ‘continued patience and understanding during this unprecedented time’.


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