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Nightmare before Christmas for Tayside audiences as Biffy Clyro and Cinderella among shows cancelled

Perth Theatre's panto Cinderella has been cancelled.

Virtually all live indoor Christmas shows across Courier Country have been cancelled or postponed overnight in light of the latest Covid restrictions.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s update to the Scottish Parliament yesterday laid out new public events rules effective from Boxing Day (December 26) for up to three weeks to help fight rising Omicron cases.

New Covid restrictions announced on December 22 2021.

The new rules state that for indoor live events, audiences will be capped at 200 seated and 100 standing, with 1m social distancing.

A slew of pantomimes, Christmas shows, Hogmanay events and big-name concerts across the area have been cancelled or postponed in response to the news.

The annual Hogmanay Street Party in Edinburgh was also cancelled.

What’s off?

This afternoon, Perth Theatre operators Horsecross Arts announced that their much-anticipated panto, Cinderella, will close early, with the last performance to take place on December 24.

A Horsecross Arts spokesperson said: “The health and safety of audiences, artists and staff remains paramount.

“We have therefore had to take the very difficult but necessary decision to cancel all performances of Cinderella from Sunday 26–Friday 31 December, as well as Fun Box’s Santa’s Pyjama Party in Perth Concert Hall on Thursday 30 December.

“We will be contacting all ticket-holders by email to advise them of their options.”

Perth Theatre’s Cinderella will no longer go to the ball as Covid cancellations take effect. Supplied by Ian Potter.

Likewise, Dundee Rep’s acclaimed A Christmas Carol will become a ghost of Christmas future for many, with tonight’s shows cancelled and the final performances taking place on Christmas Eve.

However, the theatre will offer A Christmas Carol via their streaming service, Rep Studios, instead, running from December 24 to January 2.

The Rep deemed the move “disappointing”, saying: “For our auditorium, 1m distancing means a maximum capacity of 110 people, and with many more people than this booked for performances, it is simply not viable for us to continue.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to conclude the run of A Christmas Carol for live performances at the end of the 5pm performance on Christmas Eve.

“Audiences who are booked for performances from the 26th to 31st Dec will be refunded automatically.”

Aberfeldy Hogmanay Festival also announced the “very difficult decision” to cancel the event on their Facebook page this afternoon.

And the upcoming Biffy Clyro concert at Fat Sam’s on January 16 2022 has been postponed as well, according to Assai Records UK.

Dundee Contemporary Arts director Beth Bate said cinema screenings would continue, with 1m social distancing reintroduced, and table service reinstated at the venue’s Jute Bar and Cafe.

“We are well used to working in line with this guidance, so our visitors can still expect to feel safe as well as welcomed to the brilliant programme we present across the building,” she said.

Events sector ‘on its knees’

The news has inflamed existing concerns about funding for the struggling culture sector, with many businesses facing losing money they had hoped to make back through Christmas events and gigs.

Both Dundee Rep and Horsecross Arts have asked supporters to consider donating as the organisations head into another period of loss and uncertainty.

During her update yesterday, Ms Sturgeon announced an extra £375 million of Scottish Government cash to be put towards keeping businesses afloat and minimising the impact of the three-week-long restrictions.

However, the first minister acknowledged this “will not fully compensate business”.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alexander Cole-Hamilton pointed out that the FM’s statement spelled “further darkness to an events sector that is already on its knees”.

Responding, Ms Sturgeon emphasised the importance of getting funds to affected businesses and encouraging the UK Government to “provide more wherewithal”.

SNP MSP Michelle Thomson echoed the first minister, calling for the UK Government to step up and give Scotland its full share of the UK Cultural Recovery Fund, which just received a £30 million boost from the Treasury.

“It’s beyond contemptible that, nine months on, the Scottish Government has still not received its full share of the Cultural Recovery Fund from the UK Government,” she said.

“Organisations, venues and individuals are seriously struggling.”

The UK Treasury commented: “The Scottish Government has already received £6.5bn of additional funding this year through the Barnett formula and it is for the Scottish Government to decide how to allocate this funding across their devolved responsibilities – including how to provide support to the culture sector.

“If the Treasury provides additional funding to departments then the Scottish Government will receive additional Barnett funding – again to spend as they choose.”