Published On: Thu, Aug 13th, 2020

Andrew Lloyd Webber volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine trial in bid to help theatres reopen | Ents & Arts News

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Andrew Lloyd Webber is taking part in a coronavirus vaccine trial, saying he will do anything to “prove that theatres can re-open safely”.

The trial is being run by the University of Oxford, which has teamed up with drug company AstraZeneca. They are currently working on the new vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.

The trial is currently in a combined Phase 1 and 3 stage, with thousands of participants in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

The 72-year-old tweeted his 209.2m followers telling them: “I am excited that tomorrow I am going to be vaccinated for the Oxford COVID-19 trial. I’ll do anything to prove that theatres can re-open safely.”

As a volunteer Lloyd-Webber could be given the vaccine or a placebo – of course only scientists will know which.

Multi-millionaire Lloyd Webber is behind hits including Cats and Jesus Christ Superstar, and is one of the most commercially successful composers in history.

He has been critical of the government’s decision to shut live venues and says social distancing is not economically viable in theatres. He has called for more support for struggling venues and artists.

More from Andrew Lloyd Webber

Throughout the pandemic, Lloyd Webber has used his YouTube channel to share past performances of some of his biggest musicals to raise money for charity as well as entertaining fellow musical lovers with his “composer in isolation” short videos.

However, like many in the arts industry, his work has been badly affected by the impact of the coronavirus lockdown. He is expected to take a £20m hit to his fortune due to the pandemic.

Last month his hit show Phantom of the Opera, which was London’s second-longest-running musical, was forced to close permanently on the West End due to the financial impacts of the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

The show’s producer Cameron Mackintosh had previously announced that all his shows in London would return no earlier than 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit theatres.

Lloyd Webber’s production company Really Useful Group has said it is losing up to £6m a week across combined box office sales from its six theatres.

The national advisory body for theatres has warned that box office revenue is down by more than £300m over the course of the lockdown, threatening dozens of venues with closure.

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While Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a £1.57bn coronavirus lifeline for the arts last month, which allows venues to apply for emergency grants and loans, there are still no plans in place to resume live performances.

It is estimated that 350,000 people in the recreation and leisure sector have been furloughed since the pandemic began, but that scheme is due to end in October.





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