Uncertainty remains over jobs at the Lowry despite Nightingale court deal with Ministry of Justice

  • The Lowry opened its doors this week as a Nightingale court
  • Secures contract worth an undisclosed amount with MOJ
  • Uncertainty remains over its ability to retain staff indefinitely
  • Arts sector has been among hardest hit during Covid-19 crisis

The Lowry theatre’s contract with the Ministry of Justice to become a Nightingale court has been described as a “breather” rather than as a permanent solution to potential job losses.

It is hoped that the deal will help safeguard hundreds of jobs and help the MOJ tackle a massive backlog of cases that have mounted throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

The deal comes as a welcome boost to an industry that has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Julia Fawcett, chief executive of The Lowry, said: “Like arts venues up and down the country, we simply cannot operate our building as normal in the current climate.

“And with no regular source of income since March, this partnership provides vital funds to enable us to relaunch our programme.”

However, the programme, which is said to help 2,000 young people in Salford and which is an important tool in combating mental health problems in the community, may not be able to safeguards its entire workforce. Marketing director Rachel Miller warned that it was impossible to guarantee all jobs.

She said: “At the end of the day things are very uncertain.

“There is obviously still a crisis that we’re in and this at the moment is a breather for us, but it is not a long-term solution at this time.”

The Lowry has confirmed that it will continue to support staff after the government’s retention scheme ends on 31 October. While this will only amount to paying 20% of staffs’ wages, staff at are in a better position than many in the sector.

Speaking to the House of Commons culture select committee in June, Julian Bird, chief executive of UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre, said: “Our latest survey told us 70% of theatres or production companies will run out of cash, go out of business, by the end of this year”.

Despite the uncertain future, some staff remain optimistic about their future at The Lowry.

One staff member said: “They’ve been amazing throughout the pandemic.”