Michael Ball: The theatre industry feels ‘forgotten’ in the pandemic

Stage star Michael Ball says the performing arts feel “forgotten” in the pandemic and must be “saved”.

The singer and TV presenter, 58, said he felt it was his “duty” to speak about the issue.

While hosting his BBC Radio 2 show, he sent a message to all those “who play a role in making our nights at the theatre and live music events such a joy”.

He told listeners: “It’s bad enough that they are unable to do the job they have worked and trained for their entire lives…

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Theatres are not allowed to host live performances (Newcastle Theatre Royal/PA)</figcaption>
Theatres are not allowed to host live performances (Newcastle Theatre Royal/PA)

“They’re struggling in every possible way, financially, they’re on their knees; emotionally, they’re at their wits’ end.

“Whilst other industries are starting to reopen… they (theatre) feel like they’ve been forgotten.

“They’ve no idea if they will ever work again or how they are going to put food on the table.

“Well, they’re not forgotten.”

Ball said: “If you’re in this truly dire situation… I promise you the good times will come again.

“You will go on stage again.

“You will sing, you will play, you will dance, act perform, entertain and the audiences will clap and cheer and roar with laughter…

“You will see that standing ovation again. You are not forgotten. We will overcome this.”

He said: “We must save the arts.

“We will not turn our back on this industry which has brought so much, not just to the economy but to enrich all of our lives”.

He told listeners: “I really feel it’s my duty to bring this to wider attention…

“Many people I know are out of work and currently they have nothing, not just those who take to the stage but those brilliantly talented people who work behind the scenes too.”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright)</figcaption>
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright)

He urged listeners to download a recording of Tomorrow, the song from the musical Annie and sung by Marisha Wallace at her home, saying “all proceeds in this are going to help the performers who are badly in need”.

Some theatres have already closed amid the pandemic, including the Nuffield Southampton Theatres, making some 80 employees redundant.

Theatres and concert halls are able to reopen but not for live performances and the industry has warned that it will be devastated.

Last week, some 1,500 artists and acts signed a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden calling for a roadmap for the live music industry.