HOME launches campaign to highlight cost of empty seats to arts venues

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HOME have today launched their Empty Seats campaign that highlights the cost of the seats that arts centres currently cannot sell due to social distancing regulations.

The arts centre – which includes cinema, theatre and gallery spaces – is one of the first live art venues in Manchester to reopen, but the new campaign highlights the fact that doing so does not come without its own risks.

The tongue-in-cheek campaign depicts a cinema seat “attempting” a number of alternative job roles – including barman, lighting technician and Box Office assistant – with disastrous consequences. In the end, it turns out, a seat is not much use if it is not used by an audience member.

Although the images are intended to provoke laughter, the serious message behind them is that over 700 seats must be held off sale to allow for social distancing. Each seat has a potential income of up to £130 per week, representing a huge shortfall to the organisation.

Roisin Joyce, HOME’s Director of Development, said: “We’re so excited to be reopening our building to the public – but the arts are still facing one of the most pressing challenges we have ever known. Reopening our doors comes with a huge financial risk, caused by the fact we’ve had to take 700 of our theatre and cinema seats off sale to enable us to socially distance our audiences.

“We’re launching this campaign with the message that an empty seat is just that – it can’t perform any other function for us, be that pulling a pint in our bar, selling a ticket at box office or assisting our technicians with their lighting rig. An empty seat is worth up to £130 per week – and so we are asking the public to step up to the challenge of helping us make up that shortfall until we’re back to full capacity. The reaction to our Coronavirus Response Fund was amazing – we hope to inspire the same incredible generosity until we can once again fill our empty seats.”

HOME’s cinema, bar and restaurant reopened under social distancing guidelines on Friday 4 September, and their theatre is set to return from mid-October. Multiple screenings over the opening weekend were sold out, demonstrating the public appetite to return to independent cinemas where it is safe to do so, but with capacity running at around 25-30% this still represents a major challenge for venues.

Donations can be made online, by phone or by contactless payment in-person at HOME.