"Will people be happy to go to a theatre that’s only half full?" Smock Alley urgently seeking donations 1 month ago

"Will people be happy to go to a theatre that’s only half full?" Smock Alley urgently seeking donations

"It’s human instinct to gather and enjoy the arts together."

Dublin's Smock Alley Theatre has launched a fundraiser in a bid to raise vital funds lost since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The #SaveSmock campaign is urgently seeking donations to support the iconic theatre, which has been closed to the public since mid-March.

Smock Alley Theatre MD Lucy Ryan says the recent failure of restriction stages to move forward was yet another blow for the theatre.

She tells Her that although they have been using the space for rehearsal and development, until they can open to the public again, theatre in Ireland is at a standstill.

“We’re trying to keep the lights on," she says. "We’re a public performance space so we can’t operate with a limit of 50 people indoors, it would not be financial viable to run performances.

"Health and safety is our priority, but we are a bit trapped at the moment."

Smock Alley is one of many performance spaces part of Ireland's Save The Arts campaign. The theatre has, like most businesses, been availing of the government's Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme since the beginning of lockdown, but with no end in sight to the current restrictions, Lucy is concerned about the theatre's financial viability.

“We haven’t been able to put on any performances, but we’re still faced with overhead costs," she says. "90 percent of our income comes from ticket sales.

"We have a controlled environment in Smock Alley so we can have people one metre away from each other, but we’re stuck at the minute with 50 people indoors rule. That’s what’s keeping us closed. If it was raised to 100 people that would help us.

"Our community is there and the work is still happening but until we can bring it to an audience, we’re stuck. Our income has been decimated."

It's not just tight restrictions that have severely affected the performing arts. The prevalence of social distancing in the future will also significantly change the way we consume theatre.

Lucy says that Smock Alley has been looking into upgrading their equipment so they can put on live stream performances.

As well as this, immersive theatre and hybrid performances are expected to surge, with some spaces offering a premium price to attend the performance in the actual theatre while the rest of the audience watches online.

"There are certain challenges," says Lucy. "Will people be happy to go to a theatre that’s only half full?

“It’s difficult because it’s human instinct to gather and enjoy the arts together. I just keep coming back to this idea that it’s in our nature to congregate. And that that will come back in time. It’s not going to go away."

You can find out more about the #SaveSmock campaign here.