Government urged to get support to theatres this month

Undated handout photo issued by Birmingham Hippodrome of their regional theatre, as its chief executive Fiona Allan has said
Undated handout photo issued by Birmingham Hippodrome of their regional theatre, as its chief executive Fiona Allan has said its decision to cancel its Christmas pantomime was made to avoid a potential "death blow" to its finances.

The Government has been called on to urgently get money to theatres.

Boris Johnson announced last month a £1.57 billion support package to “protect” the future of Britain’s museums, galleries and theatres.

Entertainment union Bectu has written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden calling for grants to be paid out in August, to allow theatres and live venues to “halt redundancies and support their workforce”.

Its head, Philippa Childs, said that organisations still do not know whether they will be eligible for grants or loans or exactly when the money will be paid out.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

And she said theatres need a similar scheme to that which has been set up to help TV and film companies struggling to secure coronavirus-related insurance.

“Theatre and live events contribute a huge amount to the UK economy and we must ensure that, as well as saving buildings, that we also support the creatives and crew that make our cultural industries truly world-beating,” Ms Childs said.

“Theatres seem to be of the view that the purpose of the arts recovery package is to effectively ‘mothball’ theatres until next spring,” she added.

Applications for the first round of grants – not loans – opened on Monday.

The Government recently postponed plans to allow indoor live performances, warning the country “cannot be complacent”.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “We are working at pace to deliver this unprecedented amount of funding quickly and fairly to organisations across the country, with the first grants being awarded in the coming days.

“This includes accelerating funding to support scores of music and performing arts venues at risk of insolvency before September.”

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