Our doors in Edinburgh and Glasgow have been closed since March with no current roadmap to opening soon. Our Newcastle venue did reopen in late summer with a small selection of massively reduced capacity shows. lockdown was reinstated in England from October so Newcastle is now closed.
We have been awarded £71,257 from Arts Council England for our Newcastle venue, less than 40% of what we asked for.
We have also been awarded £250,000 by Creative Scotland for our Edinburgh and Glasgow venues. This is the maximum grant possible and demonstrates that our venues provide a significant cultural offering and that we are a viable business which deserves to survive and continue to grow post Covid19.
As it stands, based on income and funding received since the onset of Covid in March - including donations – we will still have incurred an overall loss of £184K by the end of October.
This grant funding allows us to offset the net losses incurred to date and the losses that we expect to incur between now and the end of March if our venues continue to remain closed. This includes protecting the jobs of our remaining 27 staff.
Even with the recently announced funding and the income generated from donations, The Stand will still incur a loss of around £140K for the year ending March 2021 unless further funding can be drawn down.
Grant funding doesn’t fix the problem, but it makes the problem easier to deal with.
Since the introduction of the Job Retention Scheme in March, company reserves and your donations have helped us to top up staff wages across the organisation to 100% through to the end of July, and then maintain furloughed staff wages at 80% since August through til the end of October, even as government support tapered off.
We had hoped that all our venues would be open, albeit at a reduced capacity by now. However, it has been apparent for some time that our Scottish venues will remain shut for the foreseeable future. The reopening of our Newcastle venue now also depends on any extension of the second lockdown period currently in place.
Job Retention Scheme Update
The extension of the Job Retention Scheme, which was suddenly announced less than five hours before the scheme was due to come to an end on 31st October, has proven to be too little too late.
As the government had long insisted that the scheme would not be extended beyond October we had already put in place a redundancy process to consult with our staff and identify what work was available to them during lockdown and once the business is allowed to reopen.
Due to continued closure there are no gigs, no customers and no income from box office and bar sales. Even when we are able to open, we know that we cannot operate seven days a week as we did before lockdown.
So we simply do not have jobs for the staff who were offered redundancy. These staff have received full pay during their notice period and will receive the redundancy pay that they are entitled to. This has cost us around £50K, none of which can be claimed back through the government scheme.
With the chancellor’s further announcement last Thursday (5th November) that furlough would be extended to March we have reviewed all our previous decisions and taken legal advice to see if we are able to rehire the staff who left us two weeks ago. Sadly, we cannot make this happen as we would continue to incur the costs of paying NIC and other employer costs that we have not been able to claim under the scheme since the end of July.
With no jobs to return to at the end of March, we would simply be delaying the redundancy process by five months and have to repeat the process in March which would involve doubling up the costs of giving staff another notice period at full pay.
The government also announced yesterday that it is looking at removing people who are working their redundancy notice from the scheme by 1st December 2020. This would leave us with an additional cost of £28K every month from December.
Employer costs are also likely to increase to 10% or 20% (as was the case in September and October) following the government’s review of the scheme in January
With the public support and government grants we believe we can fund a plan to get through this pandemic – but it will be tight. Any additional costs we incur between now and Easter 2021 will run down finances at a quicker rate, potentially jeopardising our ability to survive beyond (or even until) spring 2021 and causing the loss of further jobs.
So it is with great regret that we had to announce to many of our staff that their contracts have come to an end. A core team of office staff will continue to work to make sure that we can get through this emergency and some venue staff will remain on furlough until the point that we can fully reopen.
When we are able to rebuild the company, operate without the current social distancing requirements, and customer confidence and demand returns, there will be more jobs available and we will be able to offer work to the friends and colleagues that we’ve had to lose along the way.
Where you have helped...
Saturday Night Live At The Stand which ran for 23 shows in 24 weeks from this March was the primary driving factor in raising funds to help the survival of the Stand. After paying acts and the production companies involved in these shows, just over £100,000 has been raised for the Stand. This has paid our staff as much as possible for as long as possible. You, the people, have been quicker to donate than the governing bodies responsible for providing grant funding.
You have helped to secure a small team of staff to continue running our shows in Newcastle and to help operate in Edinburgh and Glasgow for our return.
We will build on your generosity and strive to bring some cheer back to people as soon as we can in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. THANK YOU.