Inside Studio 1 auditorium at Arcola Theatre

Arcola to collaborate with researchers from Imperial College London to understand airflow and viral transmission in theatres

We have today announced that our artistic team will be working with scientists from Imperial College London to explore air quality in theatres and how this affects aerosol transmission of viruses such as Covid-19.

As theatres and arts venues continue to navigate audience welfare amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the project will explore how increased airflow can be used by venues and performance spaces to reduce viral transmission to increase the safety of visitors and improve arts access for immunocompromised people. 

The project aims to: 

  • Explore ways in which Arcola can increase airflow in its indoor performance spaces;
  • Use this exploration to facilitate conversations about airflow with other venues;
  • Inform the development of our new performance space, Arcola Outside, an outdoor performance space which mitigates the risk of Covid transmission among audiences.

The project will commence this year and continues our work exploring how theatres and venues can learn from the pandemic in long-term, sustainable ways. 

This collaboration follows the announcement of Arcola Outside, our new theatre space, due to open in spring this year, which has the benefits of full outdoor airflow, thereby reducing the risk of both aerosol and droplet transmission of Covid-19. 

Consulting lead at Imperial College London said:

“Working with Arcola Theatre, we hope to use emerging knowledge and data-driven approaches to address the continuous challenges faced by indoor theatres and venues during the pandemic.”

Arcola’s Executive Director Dr Ben Todd said:

“Since the pandemic began, we have been trying to understand how the cultural sector can respond innovatively to the difficulties we have faced in bringing people together to enjoy culture in a safe way.

We are delighted to be working with independent scientists from Imperial College London, through Imperial Consultants, to understand how airflow affects viral transmission in theatres, which will turn the challenges of the past year into learning and ideas for both Arcola and the wider theatre sector.”