Globe Magazine

The CEO’s perspective

   Neil Constable on the ups and downs of 2020

3 minute read

      Members’ room       Globe magazine       Autumn 2020

A man smiles in a black and white photograph

Neil Constable. Photographer: Simon Kane.

Even with the very welcome news of a potential successful vaccine, we still find ourselves at a deeply unsettling and unusual time for theatre and our beloved Globe.

Having shut our two theatres in March this year, and said farewell to over 160 actors, directors and creatives, we swiftly embarked on a digital adventure, including releasing a selection of our filmed productions for millions of viewers online and providing engaging tellings of Shakespeare’s stories for home-schooled children across the world.

Normally, we would all have gathered this summer for a fantastically busy theatre season and would now be encouraging you all to cosy into our candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse as the winter draws in. Instead, we have been asking you all to support us to survive this time. Having functioned successfully for years without subsidy, we have been proud of our efforts to corral government support for our sector, working closely with other independent organisations in the same precarious position.

The Culture Recovery Fund was announced in the Globe Theatre back in July, when we hosted Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Secretary of State Oliver Dowden, and we are now the very relieved beneficiaries of nearly £3m in grant money from the government. This will allow us to plan our reopening in the spring and our recovery – our organisation will emerge from this time very changed. We would normally be taking in approximately £2m per month from ticket sales, and so although the grant is a true lifeline, we are by no means yet in calmer waters. We look to you, our supporters and champions, to help us in any way you can through further lockdowns, either by donating or engaging with our work online.

A group of people stand in the middle of an open air theatre

CEO Neil Constable, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, Shakespeare’s Globe Chair Margaret Casely-Hayford, Secretary of State Oliver Dowden and Founding Director, Globe Education, Patrick Spottiswoode, celebrate the launch of the Culture Recovery Fund.

We have been proud to have been able to open this summer, safely and in a Covid-secure manner, for a new guided tour inviting audiences on stage for the first time, and to host storytelling events and workshops for children and families. We have also been busy working with outside filming projects, which have included a livestream concert by the wonderful James Bay, a recording by The Sixteen and even a segment in Strictly Come Dancing.

“We are so blessed to have a worldwide community that recognises the importance of the Globe.”

We plan to be back working at full-scale in the New Year, preparing to welcome you to the Globe for our much-missed theatre productions in the spring. We look forward to sharing that news as soon as we can. Until then, stay safe and thank you for your continued and inspiring support. We are so blessed to have a worldwide community that recognises the importance of the Globe and why we should continue to share everything we can currently offer from our theatres, online and in schools and universities.

Many of us often turn to Shakespeare in turbulent times, and so I leave you with this quote from Richard III: “True hope is swift and flies with swallow’s wings. Kings it makes gods and meaner creatures kings.”



A screen is divided into small squares showing a variety of actors on a video call



This article forms part of the Autumn 2020 issue of Globe magazine, exclusively for Shakespeare’s Globe Members.