operation sleeping beauty

Oliver Dowden launches Operation Sleeping Beauty

This latest campaign ‘aims to bring back some of the magic of theatre for families this Christmas.’

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 7 Sep 2020
  • min read

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has revealed that he is planning on launching Operation Sleeping Beauty.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Oliver Dowden said: ‘In recent weeks, we’ve all been thinking and talking about the Proms. I for one can’t wait to be back in the Royal Albert Hall next year, singing Land Of Hope And Glory at full voice.

‘I have very fond childhood memories of watching at home every year with my grandma, and hope to be one of the first through the doors next year.’

‘To get audiences back into our venues in much larger numbers though, we’re going to have to innovate and be bold to save the things we love.’

‘Mass indoor events are now in my sights.’ he continued. ‘Socially-distanced audiences have been allowed since mid-August, and it’s great to see organisations like the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and musicals like Sleepless – A Musical Romance, back up and running again. 

‘But we need to start filling seats in much larger numbers – not just for the audiences, not just for the venues and livelihoods who depend on them, but for the entire urban economy, too. Theatre is a lynchpin of London’s West End and its absence is painfully reflected in its deserted streets.’

Dowden goes on to write: ‘Innovation is key. It has the ability to rewrite the entire script, and I’m keen to take some of the best experimental ideas for getting people into our theatres safely and put them into practice. It could be using technology to improve ventilation in venues, as used in the pilots at The London Palladium and other theatres.’

Mark Davyd, chief executive, Music Venue Trust, tweeted: ‘I am a member of the Venues Working Group developing stage 5 of the return of indoor performances and have never heard of Operation Sleeping Beauty.

‘I’m absolutely delighted to hear it exists, many other representatives of the live music industry will be similarly pleased. We already have a raft of ideas to increase capacities, and want those to be part of it.’

This comes after Boris Johnson allowed for indoor gigs in the UK to return with social distancing measures in place, although the Music Venue Trust revealed that over two thirds of venues don’t have enough space to do so.

M Magazine went behind the scenes at Music Venue Trust back in May. Find out what CEO Mark Davyd had to say.