“We’ll be back live as soon as we possibly can.”
Renowned theatre company, Rifco Theatre, has been touring cities and entertaining audiences by delivering British Asian contemporary and unforgettable performances in the form of plays and musicals.
The theatre company focuses on developing and producing vibrant and accessible shows which reflect and celebrate the experiences of the British Asian communities with a plethora of established and upcoming talent.
Being a part of the niche British Asian entertainment and arts industry, Rifco Theatre provides diversity in theatre which can be enjoyed and be related to the South Asian community across the UK.
However, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, circumstances have since changed for the company which is popular in the arts and culture space.
Unfortunately, Rifco Theatre’s services like live performances have currently come to a halt to respect the safeguarding of the public as per UK government guidelines.
Rifco Theatre shares the impact of the Coronavirus on their arts organisation exclusively with DESIblitz.
Impact of COVID-19 on Rifco Theatre
Led by Artistic Director, Pravesh Kumar and his skilled and creative team, Rifco Theatre thrives on providing entertainment with a British Asian twist.
As the company produces and creates wonderful tours with musicals and new plays that encompass vibrancy and splendour, the ability to move from city to city is necessary.
The Coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on travel, workplaces and movement, as people are being urged to remain indoors. As a result, people are having to adapt to new ways of working.
Speaking about how COVID-19 has affected Rifco Theatre, they said:
“We’re working from home and we’re making work to distribute online! That’s the short answer.
“We can support our Rifco Associates with an online development programme and our playwrights can continue working with their support online.
“But when it comes to making live work, we have to be patient and put plenty of plans in place to entertain and excite our audiences.”
When asked about what the challenges were for the theatre industry in terms of producers, directors, writers, actors, stage crew and more, they explained:
“Most artists in the theatre industry are self-employed with short term contracts on a show by show basis which is a massive challenge.”
They also highlighted how the coronavirus will leave a long term effect on the theatre even when the lockdown is lifted.
“Reviving our industry once lockdown is fully lifted will be a huge undertaking and will take many months to develop work and gain the confidence of our audiences and venues.”
Despite the challenges faced by Rifco Theatre, they revealed the staff are coping well with COVID-19 and said:
“Rifco is coping very well – we’re a small staff and we can work pretty well with video conferencing!”
“Of course, it’s tricky because we’re a theatre company, we make live theatre… but we’ve got plenty of work in the pipeline and you can find it on our newly refreshed website.”
Theatre companies are people-orientated businesses, hence, without people attending live shows, the business fails to operate as normal.
We asked Rifco Theatre how they are currently coping financially as a business. In response, they disclosed:
“As a business, we’re in pretty good shape and will be able to ride this lockdown in the short term.
“As a touring company, we’re ‘fleet of foot’ in terms of fixed costs but are very concerned for our building based venue partners who may not fare quite as well.”
Before the Coronavirus lockdown, Rifco Theatre had scheduled upcoming live performances.
When asked how the lockdown has impacted audiences, they told us:
“We’ve moved our audiences online – Mushy: Lyrically Speaking is available free for two months.
“The 2020 timetable for shows and for touring is postponed but we do hope to have info for our audiences as soon as we can.”
As part of their transformation during this lockdown phase, they have launched a campaign called DESI Lockdown which is a new digital programme to keep British South Asian voices heard.
They are looking to commission five artists to share their experiences of Desi people in lockdown.
Their commissions are designed to address the lack of opportunity and pathways for British Asian artists and the Desi Lockdown is no different by aiming to support support fellow artists who can share current and real stories during this uncertain time.
Despite the daunting impact of COVID-19 on the arts company, they are optimistic and are working to plan for business after lockdown.
Working from home and abiding by social distancing guidelines, Rifco Theatre have been planning for future productions post COVID-19.
“We’ve got our next big bold musical, Frankie Goes to Bollywood in autumn 2021, British Asian Festival in February 2021 and a massive birthday celebration, all during our 21st anniversary year – Rifco 21 Years.”
With a range of exciting live shows in the pipeline, Rifco Theatre have a message for its fans of British Asian theatre. They said:
“Go online at www.rifcotheatre.com to see what we’re up to!
“And if you like what you see PLEASE join our Rifco family through our Friends and Family Scheme, or by making a one-off donation.
“We’ll be back live as soon as we possibly can.”
Ending on a positive note, the Rifco Theatre Company reassured its fans by saying:
“Rifco will certainly survive lockdown!”
Rifco Theatre is a prime example of an arts business which thrives from producing and delivering the finest entertainment to its audiences which has had to adapt its way of business.
Undoubtedly, the types of challenges faced by businesses differs depending on the nature of the industry.
As demonstrated by Rifco Theatre, encouraging a positive attitude and finding alternative methods to continue working, highlights a practical plan to survive the pandemic outbreak and to look ahead.
We wish Rifco Theatre and its team all the best with its current work as well as its future endeavours. We look forward to enjoying many more live shows post COVID-19.
Meanwhile, explore their website to stay up-to-date with exciting news and future ventures.