With the news being published tonight announcing the £1.57 billion rescue package for the arts, Jon Morgan, director of The Theatres Trust, a national advisory public body for theatres, has released the following statement:
“Theatres Trust greatly welcomes the government’s announcement of £1.57bn additional support for the arts and cultural sectors. It is a strong message from government that it recognises the importance of these sectors to the UK economy, to national life and to communities across the country. We hope that this package can be distributed swiftly in order to avoid further redundancies and closures and to bring many of the UK’s theatres back from the brink.
We are also pleased to see investment in capital projects included in this announcement. Maintaining and improving the UK’s unrivalled national network of theatre buildings, which act as vital community hubs across the country, is essential if they are to remain fit for purpose. Our research has shown that there are more than 100 theatre capital projects worth almost £800m that have been stalled by the pandemic by anywhere between 3 and 18 months at a cost of upwards of £66m. These projects will keep theatres operational, improve their environmental sustainability, and provide new and improved facilities for engaging with their local communities.
We will need to know more detail of how this money will be allocated across the different areas to fully assess its benefit – we would hope that a significant proportion will be reserved for the performing arts. Theatres have been amongst the hardest hit industries by the pandemic and are still at risk as they are unable to operate viably while social distancing is in place. We also hope that funding will reach beyond London and support the UK’s many brilliant local theatres that serve their communities so well.
The majority of this money will be needed to cover ongoing staffing and overhead costs as the furlough scheme tapers from August and ultimately ends in October. While this is an extraordinary sum of money whether it will be sufficient to keep the nation’s theatres alive will depend on when they will be able to reopen fully. The theatre sector is keen to return and welcome audiences again safely and as soon as possible.”
Theatres Trust is the national advisory public body for theatres. Jon Morgan sits on the Entertainment and Events Working Group which is working with DCMS and health officials to determine how theatres can reopen with minimised risks to staff, performers and audiences.