News: Arts organisations respond to the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown

Following today’s announcement with the roadmap out of lockdown, organisations have released statements regarding the arts sector.

Jon Morgan, director of Theatres Trust, the UK national advisory body for theatres, commented:

“Theatres Trust welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement of a ‘not before’ date of 17 May for theatres to reopen with social distancing and capacity limits, but we recognise that this will be subject to the Covid data nearer the time. We also recognise that this means that many theatres, who cannot operate viably with lower audiences under social distancing, will need to wait longer before reopening.

Theatres Trust supports the government’s cautious approach to easing lockdown restrictions. We want to play our part in helping keep people safe and we do not want to be in a situation where theatres reopen too early only to be forced to close again after a short period.

The Job Retention Scheme and the Culture Recovery Fund have provided vital support for the sector so far. We are pleased to hear that the government is committed to continued support to protect jobs. It is important that this is targeted to reflect the differing realities for different sectors depending on where they are on the reopening roadmap.

The theatre sector continues to work with the government to establish as clear a pathway as possible to reopening and to identify any mitigating measures that would allow a return to full audiences.”

Josephine Burns, Chair of Without Walls, a consortium of over 30 festivals and arts organisations that bring fantastic outdoor arts to people in towns and cities across the UK, commented:

“We welcome the news of a cautious lockdown exit plan and gradual reopening of the economy, but Without Walls and its 35 partner organisations now appeal for the government to outline clear guidelines for the Outdoor Arts to return to business. Outdoor Arts are a thriving part of the UK cultural landscape that are more important now than ever. Our work is particularly well placed to bring vibrancy and connection back to public spaces and Without Walls is committed to getting our work back on the streets and in front of audiences in ways that are safe, responsible, and celebratory for everyone.

Without Walls’ partners are all working together to ensure that public safety is paramount at our events and we have developed a range of resources on how to present work safely in outdoor settings during the pandemic. We are at a critical point in the development of our work and now need adequate notice and time to plan. This year we are investing over £650k in our
largest programme ever, to support artists to create and tour 20 new ambitious projects across the country. Without clear guidance for our industry, this network of events, experts and freelance workforce remains under threat.

To move forward, Without Walls urges the government to recognise the adaptability and expertise of the UK Outdoor Arts sector which prides itself on making extraordinary things happen in a huge range of contexts, spaces and places. We believe that Outdoor Arts are essential to support cultural recovery and to bring communities back together following the trauma of the pandemic. We are confident that our events are viable, as safe as outdoor exercise and can bring tremendous value to the health and wealth of our
nation and wider economy. We eagerly anticipate further information to help us move forward.”

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