Since the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 we have witnessed unprecedented upheavals in our social and cultural lives. Policy has been announced and changed. Governments have U-turned. Lockdowns have been imposed and lifted. We have all tried to keep up with changing social restrictions. It’s been difficult to keep track of events.
Since going dark in March 2020 theatres have struggled through these upheavals. Theatres and theatre freelancers have had to navigate government and industry support packages while living through the emotional reality of a pandemic. At the same time, many have taken their theatre work online, or organised theatre freelancer advocacy and support groups across the UK. Presently, as some theatres begin to reopen, the impacts of the pandemic on the sector are coming to bear.
As our research looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the economic, social and cultural lives of theatre freelancers we are interested in how these effects have changed over time. We also recognised that time, in a pandemic, moves in a strange way and it can be hard to recall the order in which things happened. We needed a tool to help us chart the changes.
To this end, we have created an interactive timeline mapping out over 100 key dates in the pandemic, including key policy and government announcements that have impacted on theatres, and the publication of key pieces of research related to theatre freelancers. Recognising that each nation of the UK has been on differing timelines, we have organised the timeline under these national headings.
We believe that mapping out the events since March 2020 should be a collaborative and on-going effort, taking into account many different viewpoints. We are therefore inviting you to contribute to the timeline. If you work in or engage with the theatre sector, please use this form to answer the question: What have been your key dates and events since March 2020?
Our idea is to create a tool that not only supports our research but also helps with the theatre industry’s collective memory of the pandemic and its impacts. It is both an aide memoir and a resource that allows us all to look back over the course of events and recognise the key junctures in the pandemic. What’s more, it is perhaps haunted by alternative futures and paths not taken.
Through crowdsourcing key dates, as well as the dates and events that our research has shown us to be important, we hope to tell some of the story of the UK theatre sector during COVID-19. Rather than a definitive history, we hope that this timeline becomes a live and evolving reflection on an ongoing crisis.