Leading figures in world of arts hail £1.5bn rescue package

6 July 2020, 09:03

The £1.57 billion support package has been welcomed by many in the arts
The £1.57 billion support package has been welcomed by many in the arts. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Leading figures in the world of arts have hailed the government's £1.57 billion rescue package for museums, galleries and theatres.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Sunday a "generous" and "affordable" support package that would "protect" the future of the sector in the UK.

He said the arts and heritage industries, which employ more than 700,000 people in Britain, were "critical" to the UK's economy.

The funding, which will also help independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues, was welcomed by Arts Council England, the Royal Opera House, the Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre and the Music Venue Trust.

It comes after some theatres, which have been unable to stage live performances, were forced to close down or make staff redundant due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement has been welcomed across the arts sectors, but some have expressed caution before seeing the detail of the package.

Actor, writer and director Simon Callow expressed relief and called on the creativity of his colleagues to ensure the funding goes to the right places.

He wrote on Twitter: "Pheeeeeew. Good on 'em, and good on our representatives who obviously spoke truth to power.

"Now we need a massively focused co-ordination of all our needs and all our imagination and all of our inventiveness. Hallelujah."

Comedian and actor Rob Brydon wrote on Twitter: "Great news! Let’s hope this gets to the people and places that need it."

Singer Frank Turner said he was "cautiously optimistic" following the announcement and congratulated those who had campaigned for on the music industry's behalf.

He wrote: "Cautiously optimistic about this.

"Devil in the detail and all that, but let’s take a moment to congratulate @musicvenuetrust and everyone else who fought for this."

Likewise, actor, comedian and director David Schneider said: "Have to see the details of course with this government, but this could be good news and a great relief to so many.

Actress, singer and author Carrie Hope Fletcher responded to the support package, saying: "Thank goodness for that."

Comedian Marcus Brigstocke said it was "very welcome news" while fellow-comedian Rachel Parris said the money "will make a difference" despite it taking time to be announced.

She said: "Took their time but... this is good news! And yes everyone will go it’s not enough it’s not perfect and it’s late. True, but it will help a lot.

"It will make a difference."

Arts Council England chairman Sir Nicholas Serota said the package was a "very significant investment".

Creative organisations will be "serving their communities and... helping the nation recover as we emerge from the pandemic", he added.

Music Venue Trust chief executive Mark Davyd said it "warmly welcomes this unprecedented intervention into Britain's world-class live music scene."

"This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues and gives us the time we need to create a plan to safely reopen live music," he added.

Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre, said it "hugely welcomed" the funding."

"Venues, producers and the huge workforce in the theatre sector look forward to clarity of how these funds will be allocated and invested, so that artists and organisations can get back to work as soon as possible," he said.

"Our industry's united ambition is to be able to play its vital role in the nation's economic and social recovery and this investment will allow us to do so."

Royal Opera House chief executive Alex Beard said the funding was a "vital next step on the road to recovery for the industry and will help to support and sustain the UK's vibrant arts ecology through this crisis."

The "support will be a catalyst for unlocking the extraordinary creativity embedded in the UK's world-renowned creative industries", he said.

Lord Lloyd-Webber said the "news is truly welcome at a time when so many theatres, orchestras, entertainment venues and other arts organisations face such a bleak future."

Ben Roberts, BFI chief executive, said it was "welcome news for our independent cinemas, who play a vital cultural role across the country."

Nottingham Playhouse artistic director Adam Penford said the "package recognises just how much our nation values our world-class arts and culture. The devil's in the detail and we await further information, including how it will be distributed, which will be key to its success."

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