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By July 6, 2020 Read More →

Rapscallion Magazine News: the £1.15bn for the arts comes with strings attached included a hefty chunk of repayable loans, grants and cash for ‘national cultural institutions’ while smaller venues and companies could lose out

The Axbridge Pageant has been put back a year due to the Covid-19 crisis meaning lost revenue – will events like this be included in the £1.15bn hand out?

Slightly skeptical about the cash promised to the arts by the Government – somewhat belatedly – is it new money? Check the small print is the important part of this welcome piece of PR.

Writing for the BBC their arts editor Will Gompetz noted: “As always, the devil will be in the detail. The government has not specified how the money will be divided between competing art forms or regions, nor how the application process will work. There will be winners and losers.

“And then there’s the elephant in the auditorium: when will the rules around social distancing in performing arts venues be relaxed to allow the show to go on?

“Many theatre producers are baffled by what they see as ‘one rule for them, and one rule for us’, approach by government, particularly when it comes to travel. Why is it OK for people to sit side-by-side on a train or plane for hours but not in a theatre, which they argue is a much more controllable environment? As far as they are concerned, that is the billion dollar question.”

The Tobacco Factory in Bristol has had to suspend its season Shakespeare plays due to the crisis

The promised £1.15bn support pot for the arts organisation and venues in England features £880m in grants and £270m of repayable loans with funds devolved to the three administrations in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland – suggesting an element of red tape that could eat into the cash. So called national cultural institutions will also get £100m.

Philippa Childs, head of the Bectu union which supports workers across the media and entertainment industry, said the support package was overdue. She said she would be looking at the small print to check it was all it was said to be. She commented: “At long last the government have woken up to our warnings and those of the whole creative sector, that without support, we stood to lose a huge amount of our world-beating creative industries. We will now be scrutinising the details of this package to make sure it lives up to the real needs of our sector.”

On their website the actors and performers trade union Equity put: “Critically, it’s unclear as to how this money will be used on our first pillar- supporting the workforce through this crisis. How will the £880m in grants for the sector support and maintain the freelance and self employed creative workers our UK arts infrastructure depends on?

“If this investment does not reach creative workers – the actors, dancers, stage management, singers, variety artists, directors, designers, choreographers and many other highly skilled workers in our talent base, we risk the diversity and success of the wider creative industries – worth £112bn to the economy. These workers have campaigned for this deal; they can’t be left behind.”

The Bristol Old Vic has been dark during the crisis – they will be hoping to receive help

The question is clearly how will the cash be distributed and who will get what? Will for instance smaller venues like The Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol get funding or an actor performer like Kid Carpet receive anything – or will it be the RSC and the West End theatres that benefit along with museums and galleries operated by trusts or local authorities who have the man power to apply?

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