Due to the ongoing lockdown in the city of London, Shakespeare's Globe has no visitors - and no income.
The original Globe theater was built by Shakespeare's theater company the Lord Chamberlain's Men in 1599. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed it in 1613. Years later, a replica of the theater was rebuilt in 1997 and now faces the worst threat yet: the ongoing pandemic. Due to lockdown restrictions, the Globe has had to halt all productions. This means it has little income to sustain itself. In light of this, the staff of the theater believe it may face permanent closure if they do not sort out funding soon, CNN reports. To lose the Globe, a national treasure, would be a loss to art across the world.
Shakespeare's Globe is at present not eligible for Arts Council funding, artistic director Michelle Terry revealed. The playhouse has been confronted with having to "balance between surviving and serving" the community. In an interview with BBC Radio, she said, "A little bit like every freelancer, it's very hand to mouth. We're completely dependent on income from ticket sales and everything - retail, education workshops." As the lockdown continues, many of those services have come to a complete stop. She continued, "So when that income stops we have the few reserves we've got in the bank - it's sort of like whatever savings you've got - that's how long you'll last, really."
Those who work with or at the playhouse are not the only ones who recognize the misfortune of losing the Globe. Lawmaker Julian Knight, who chairs the digital, culture, media, and sport committee of the United Kingdom, claimed its permanent closure would be a great "tragedy." "Shakespeare's Globe is a world-renowned institution and not only part of our national identity, but a leading example of the major contribution the arts make to our economy," he stated. "For this national treasure to succumb to [the pandemic] would be a tragedy." Indeed it would. Since it was first reopened in 1997, the playhouse has put on productions of Shakespeare's classics, such as Hamlet, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello.
In addition to being a hub for lovers of art and literature, it is an architectural wonder. The building itself features several elements of the original Elizabethan structure, destroyed in the early 17th century due to the Great Fire of 1666. Ever since that disaster took place, Shakespeare's Globe is actually the first and only building in the city of London allowed to have a thatched roof. From an aesthetic point of view, the theater is nearly identical in appearance. It does however have some modern features as well, such as a concrete theater pit and roof-based sprinklers in order to meet fire and safety standards.
Furthermore, the theater is built on the site of the original one. Shakespeare's Globe rests on the banks of the River Thames, and visitors can use historical records for guidance around the structure. Not only has it been a place for tourists to experience Shakespeare's works come to life, but it has also been a space of learning for students and literature enthusiasts alike. At a time when art and its positive impact on the world around us continue to be deeply undervalued, the Globe is a tangible piece of evidence to prove the worth and need for art. It would indeed be a tragic loss to the art world should Shakespeare's Globe be forced to closed down permanently.