Arts funding has "come in the nick of time" for grass roots organisations

6 July 2020, 15:11

"Government funding for arts and culture has come in the nick of time"

By Seán Hickey

The Chancellor's funding for the Arts sector will keep culture rooted deeply within British communities according to this theatre boss.

Julia Fawcett is the Chief Executive of the Lowry Theatre in Greater Manchester and was speaking to Shelagh Fogarty in the wake of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement of a £1.5 billion package to support the Arts and Culture industry as coronavirus impacts businesses disproportionately.

Ms Fawcett insisted that the announcement has been a welcome one and was telling Shelagh the importance of the funding for the industry, which has been facing some of its most difficult months in memory. Shelagh wanted to know what the Arts industry "were facing before this came."

"We don't have any dates for the reopening of theatres so, it's been impossible to plan in this kind of vacuum." the theatre boss began.

"But the thing that we've all been looking at; job cuts, pay cuts, redundancies, we're all somewhere on that road."

Ms Fawcett elaborated and said that although the package is welcome, she urged government to. work quickly to provide the funding. "This funding really needs to be backed up by quick action" to reverse the Arts industry from the cliff edge of crisis.

The Arts and Culture industry has been hit hard by coronavirus lockdown
The Arts and Culture industry has been hit hard by coronavirus lockdown. Picture: PA

Shelagh reminded Ms Fawcett that many theatres and Arts facilities up and down the country have already closed. "Do you think it has come too late for some venues?" She asked.

"There's still a lot to fight for here to retain much of the culture sector" Ms Fawcett argued, stating that closures are regrettable, the government must act to get the funding "right into those grass roots organisations" and only then "we'll be in with a fighting chance of keeping this valuable sector going."

Shelagh asked for the Lowry Theatre chief's view on the argument that the funding could be served better in saving jobs in other sectors, with many branding the Arts "an elite thing for the elites."

"The only thing we all have in common at the moment is that we're all massively struggling" she said, adding that "there's so much at risk here."

Ms Fawcett maintained that the Arts are "very often rooted right in the heart of their community, and that's what's at risk" if the government do not support the sector. She told Shelagh that "this funding has only come in the nick of time" to save the livelihoods of countless people, and keeps communities together.

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