Prague's National Theatre has lost 121 million crowns due to COVID-19 epidemic

The theater has already refunded more than 50 million crowns worth of tickets to cancelled performances

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 24.08.2020 16:09 (updated on 24.08.2020)

Prague, Aug 24 (CTK) – The National Theatre (ND) in Prague cancelled about 400 performances from March to June because of the coronavirus epidemic, its loss in profits was 121.3 million crowns, and by the end of the year the loss is estimated to be more than 250 million, ND Director Jan Burian has said.

The loss may be reduced to 180 million this year thanks to savings, Burian said at the Theatre staff meeting held on occasion of the opening of the new 138th season.

The ND will return money to those who bought tickets for the cancelled performances. Until now, people have returned 73,630 out of the 80,910 tickets sold, and the Theatre has refunded 51 million crowns back to them. People have not yet returned tickets worth 2.3 million.

Burian said the ND had money to pay its staff salaries thanks to a special coronavirus subsidy of 117.6 million crowns that it received from the Culture Ministry in July.

Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (Social Democrats, ČSSD) told the staff at the meeting that the National Theatre cannot afford to wait for the epidemic to end and only then start working again, but that it must try to perform even in these restricted conditions.

He said different theaters were seeking different ways to secure the health of both the actors and the spectators and considering possible changes in the program with regard to the present situation.

“This is a struggle for theater… It is about how much love there is for theater and how many spectators cannot get along without theater in the country,” Zaoralek said.

Unlike smaller theaters, the ND did not reopen for the public at the end of the past season when some lockdown measures were lifted and performances for up to 100 and later up to 500 people were allowed again. Theatre management declared that it would be loss-making to perform under such conditions.

Burian said the ND will use the full capacity of its buildings from the beginning of the new season again as its auditoriums have the recommended separate sectors – the ground floor, the balconies and the galleries, which now also have separate cloakrooms and snack bars. He said the arrival and departure of the audience is organised so that people from different sectors can stay separated.

There may be up to 500 people in each sector.