Bristol Old Vic has begun job loss consultations with staff after announcing that more than a third of its 60 staff could be at risk.
The 254-year-old theatre, longest-lived in the UK, embarked on the process in the wake of the covid-19 crisis.
Theatres across the country have announced similar measures.
Theatre chair Liz Forgan said: “It is with enormous regret that Bristol Old Vic has begun a consultation process to reduce the size of its workforce due to the covid-19 crisis.
“The last five years have brought astonishing success for Bristol Old Vic and the Board are very clear that these successes have been achieved through the skills and dedication of our wonderful workforce.
“Nonetheless, by taking these steps now, we are putting ourselves in a position to emerge flexible, solvent, and fighting fit to meet the challenges of the post-covid world.”
Executive Director Charlotte Geeves said: “The unprecedented circumstances of this crisis, forcing all theatres to close and taking away 75 percent of our income at a stroke, has left us in an extremely vulnerable position.
“The Government’s Job Retention Scheme has kept us alive, as it has kept businesses alive in every part of the economy, and we are hopeful that the Government’s Cultural Investment will support our survival further as we prepare to reopen the theatre gradually over the coming 18 months.
“The theatre plans to make further announcements about the programme shortly.
“We are also enormously grateful for the support we have received so far and the donations made to our Reopening Fund. Donations such as these are hugely important and will directly fund our work as we emerge from the COVID crisis.
“However, there is no avoiding the fact that the current circumstances mean that we will be unable to recover the income levels we’ve built up over the last decade with any speed or predictability.
“Therefore, in order to ensure Bristol Old Vic survives and is able to emerge, we have to reshape our business.”
Artistic Director Tom Morris added: “Over the last 10 years, the team at Bristol Old Vic has worked with a rare passion to create inspiring work and to share this beautiful building with more and more people from Bristol and the region.
“This has been achieved through colossal hard work in the face of steadily declining subsidy and increasing commercial pressure.
“Our successes are entirely due to the generosity, skill and dedication of our wonderful staff, who have again and again achieved miracles with decreasing resource, and the talent and skill of the freelance artists who have worked with equal brilliance to create the programme which has rebuilt our reputation.
“Around this work, Bristol Old Vic staff have also worked tirelessly to reinvent our business as we completed the refurbishment of the site and reopened so joyfully in 2018.
“Such a brilliant team does not deserve this process, which is caused by the unprecedented impact of the covid-19 disaster and the forced contraction of our economy that has followed it.
“We are fighting to protect as many jobs as we can, but of course have to support and implement the Board’s decision to prioritise the survival of the theatre so that we can regrow it healthily and once again entertain our loyal, generous and growing audiences as soon as circumstances allow.”