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News: Pandemic Sees Job Losses at South Shields Customs House Arts Centre

Pandemic Sees Job Losses at South Shields Customs House Arts Centre

Following a period of consultation, The Customs House is making 27 posts redundant.

Nine full-time and 18 part-time members of staff have been served with their notice from the charity and arts centre in South Shields. Eighteen staff have been retained in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Customs House Executive Director Ray Spencer said: “It is an incredibly difficult decision to have so many staff leave The Customs House.  “We have tried hard to trade but the current social distancing guidelines which reduce our opportunities to earn income, which represents 92% of our turnover, our lack of reserves, together with the constant threat of local lockdown and/or a second wave makes it impossible for the trust to support our current level of staff beyond the end of furlough.  We sincerely wish our colleagues well in these incredibly difficult times.”

The venue in Mill Dam closed its doors on March 16 for five months due to the pandemic before reopening last month with the cinema and restaurant functioning on reduced capacities.  The theatre’s first performance back was its Thank You Variety Show, which was free to NHS and Key Workers on August 28. It has since seen reduced audiences return for Arbuthnot Goes Back to School and Jason Cook’s Comedy Club last week.

Theatre audiences are reduced from a capacity of 439 to between 102 to 172 depending on bubble sizes, Cinema from 140 to a maximum of 42 and the restaurant from 70 to a maximum of 42.

Mr Spencer added: “The whole sector continues to suffer. Our survey of 1400 regular users clearly showed that until a vaccine is found audiences will be hesitant to return to cinema & theatre in pre-Covid numbers and it will be a long road to recovery.”

A small number of events programmed throughout the rest of the year will go ahead, with the rest of the shows being transferred to 2021. To find out more, or make a donation to the charity, visit

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