And plans made for next year are being shelved as the organisation has had to tell visiting companies that it cannot guarantee being open to receive shows that had previously been pencilled in for the summer season.
Currently closed as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, the reopening of the Opera House is also dependent on completion of essential maintenance work.
Funding of £2.2 million was granted from the Fiscal Stimulus Fund, introduced to support economic recovery in the light of the pandemic, but the money is held internally by the government to meet the cost of the repair work.
Stressing that the Opera House had no direct access to the agreed funding, chairman Pierre Horsfall said that it was ‘very frustrating’ that funds allocated in good faith were dependent on the appointment of a project manager to enable the scheduling of work to begin.
‘Even the planning can’t yet start and so it means that it pushes the opening date back even further. We are not in charge of the work – the government is in charge and it seems to be taking a long time, which is causing problems for the Opera House in cancelling plans for bookings,’ Mr Horsfall said.
The board of the Opera House is understood to have examined costed plans for reopening in July and September next year, depending on the completion date of maintenance work on the exterior and interior of the Gloucester Street theatre. It includes roof repairs and other repairs to the external fabric, as well as interior electrical works and improvements to disabled access but Mr Horsfall said that they had received no indication of when the work might begin.
‘It is quite a complex picture and, at this stage, we have frankly no idea how long it will take,’ he said.
Theatre director Jasmine Hendry said the challenge of reopening the theatre was compounded by the need to reinstate six posts lost during lockdown which had to be accomplished several months before audiences could return.
‘We need to have some indication of when we will reopen. By summer next year we will have been closed for two years. It is almost like starting a new organisation in terms of back office roles,’ she said.