The SFD is terminating all this year’s competitions with immediate effect.
In a formal statement the SFD said:
‘SFD Statement of Intent
During On-going Covid Restrictions: As a result of the current Covid epidemic and the restrictions being imposed on large indoor gatherings, and in order to do our best to keep our members as safe as possible, the SFD has decided to suspend all competitions until further notice. No further performances will be visited by adjudicators or moderators. Competition entry fees which have been paid for this year will be refunded.’
“This is the hardest decision I have had to make as Chair of the SFD,” Sam Allen said following the decision. “But the committee feels that we have to consider the welfare of our volunteer adjudicators and moderators above all else.”
This decision comes in the wake of the Omicron variant of Covid, cases of which are rising very rapidly. We have already seen several London shows cancelled including The Lion King, The Life of Pi, Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Comedy of Errors, Hex at the National Theatre, The Rhythmics, Force Majeure at the Donmar Warehouse and Fair Play at the Bush Theatre. So the impact of Omicron is very real, and this is still the early days of the new wave. Unlike professional theatre, amateur societies do not usually have understudies so the impact of the pandemic is likely to be even more severe in the amateur theatre world as it spreads at a rate that experts are calling ‘staggering’.
Numbers of entries are already significantly down this year as many am dram societies in Somerset have not yet returned to their full programme of shows. In a normal year there are at least 25 pantomimes entered in the Cinderella Trophy Competition, sometimes the number is nearer to 35. So far this year there have only been 12 formal entries, with two more expected. If the Omicron variant impacts even a small number of those entries, the numbers could be down to 8 or 10, which is not enough for a viable competition.
Sam said, “We considered the option of continuing the competitions for now and cancelling later if necessary. But that means putting our volunteers at risk, possibly for no real reason. And we have to consider the impact on their families and their livelihoods too. If people have to self-isolate that could mean no family Christmases, no income for people who may be self employed, and the risk of serious illness for vulnerable relatives. I think that is too big an ask for people who are, after all, volunteering.”
Any society that has already paid entry fees will have their money returned, whether or not they have received an adjudication, and societies may continue to publicise their shows on our website (through Roger Price in the usual way) and on our Facebook pages.
Cinderella Trophy Competition Coordinator Pam Price said, “We had hoped for a smaller promising season to keep spirits high. However, we were unable to predict that Omicrom would come between us. It is such a disappointment to our team.”
SFD Vice Chair Di Dean said, “It is sad it has come to this, but we can’t go on like this, and we can’t expect our adjudicators and moderators to keep taking risks attending any shows which might still be going ahead.”
Sam said, “We would like to extend our best wishes and support for any societies with productions this season. We are so sorry we cannot be there with you and wish you all well for the future. I know that in the past our members have been very supportive and understanding and while I know there will be a lot of disappointment, I am sure there will be a lot of understanding too.”