The government promises to promise a huge £ 1.57 billion coronavirus lifeline for the arts, but theaters and music venues may still remain closed until next year.
The emergency cash aid, donations and loans, was well received by important figures in the arts, but there will be consternation that there are still no plans to resume live performances.
There are fears that many theaters, concert halls and other venues will not be able to reopen until next summer, which would mean that they would remain closed until Christmas – with no panto season.
Image: UK culture has been largely confined to the Internet – like this Take That program – since the blockade began in March
Labor dismissed the brochure as “too little, too late” and a Tory MP said he would only provide temporary help – and claimed that social detachment does not work in theaters and elsewhere.
In announcing the rescue package, Boris Johnson seemed to recognize that the return of many theater, musical and show productions of all sizes would not be possible in the near future.
“From iconic theaters and musicals, fascinating exhibitions in our world-class galleries to shows held in local basement locations, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country,” said the prime minister.
But he added: “This money will help protect the industry for future generations, ensuring that groups and artistic installations across the UK can stay afloat and support their employees while their doors remain closed and the curtains drawn.”
The government says it is working to get the performing arts back to work as soon as it is safe and is being guided by specialist doctors. Guidelines for a phased return will be published shortly.
The £ 1.57 billion lifeline comes after a frantic lobby from the arts world, the closure of the Nuffield Theater in Southampton and even claims that the Royal Albert Hall will go bankrupt without urgent funding.
It is estimated that 350,000 people in the recreation and leisure sector have benefited since the start of the pandemic. But that scheme is due to end in October.
Under the new scheme, performing arts organizations and theaters, historic sites, palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to apply for grants and emergency loans.
The government says the money represents the biggest single investment in UK culture and will help organizations facing closure and bankruptcy to stay afloat while their doors are closed.
The package includes:
• A £ 1.15 billion support pot for cultural organizations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. £ 270 million in repayable financing and £ 880 million in grants
• £ 100m of support for England’s national cultural institutions and the English Heritage Trust
• £ 120 million capital investment to restart the construction of cultural infrastructure and for heritage building projects in England that were interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic
• £ 188 million extra for non-concentrated administrations in Northern Ireland (£ 33 million), Scotland (£ 97 million) and Wales (£ 59 million).
Oliver Dowden, secretary of culture, said: “I understand the serious challenges that the arts face and we must protect and preserve everything we can for future generations. He said that we would not disappoint the arts, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment. “
But Labor’s shadow culture secretary, Jo Stevens, said: “While we welcome the announcement of a much-needed cash injection in the industry, for many this is too late.
“The government needs to ensure that this vital funding reaches theaters and other organizations that are on the verge of bankruptcy and quickly – especially in cities and small towns where live venues and other artistic organizations are so valuable to local economies, offering many interdependent jobs, particularly in hospitality “.
Parliamentary Tory Julian Knight, who chairs the Culture Selection Committee, said: “This is the first step in helping to prevent some of our major cultural institutions from failing.
“This money is welcome and should move out of the danger zone, even if temporarily. But, to guarantee its long-term future, there needs to be a sectoral agreement, possibly involving more generous tax incentives.
“We know that the social distance of a meter does not work economically for most theaters and facilities in the UK. We finally need a means by which these organizations can safely open up and gain public confidence.”
Image: A sign alerts people to the closure of Alexandra Palace in London, closed since March
However, there was a warm welcome by the government’s help from leading figures in the world of the arts.
National Theater director Rufus Norris said that theater companies across the country “are ready to respond with creativity and commitment and reopen as soon as possible”.
“We feel very positive that this huge investment will reach and maintain the vital talent and infrastructure – organizations and freelancers – that make British theater a truly world leader,” he said.
Composer and entrepreneur Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose musicals have played in London’s West End for decades, said: “This news is really welcome at a time when so many theaters, orchestras, entertainment venues and other artistic organizations face such a future. dingy”.
Playwright James Graham, author of West End’s top TV and film hits, said: “In normal times, we are a profitable, world-beating industry, and we can be again.
“The scale and ambition of this package is incredibly welcome and I have to say a huge relief to hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, not to mention millions of audience members, who want to be able to recover British culture and prosper. safe to do so. “
And Sir Nicholas Serota, chairman of the Arts Council of England, said: “I know that our incredible artists and creative organizations will return the faith that the government has demonstrated by demonstrating the breadth of its creativity, serving its communities and helping the country to recover. ” we emerged from the pandemic. “
Nickie Aiken, a conservative deputy from the cities of London and Westminster, including the West End, said: “Covid has placed our theaters, arts and cultural spaces in a dangerous position and 70% are expected to run out of money by the end of the year.
“If these venues collapse, so do the local pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants that depend on them. For every pound you spend on the theater, another £ 5 is spent on the local economy.”