Our world-leading performing arts industry has taken an absolute battering as a result of the pandemic, through no fault of its own. During the first stages of the pandemic, the industry as a whole benefited from the financial support injected by the Treasury and DCMS via the Culture Recovery Funds, and help for some individuals came through the furlough and SEISS schemes.
But we are now hurtling very rapidly into another major crisis. Without further support, the consequences for the careers of individual performing arts workers, and for the continuing existence of the entire industry, could be terminal.
As a result of the recent emergence of the Omicron variant, theatre shows and other live events across the nation are suffering grave financial consequences. Many performances are being cancelled at the shortest of notice as a result of infections within their workforce, and official medical advice combined with the public’s concern for their own health are having a devastating effect on ticket sales across the board.
After everything we have been through over the last two years, this really could be the last straw. The fact remains that 70% of our workforce are freelancers, including by far the majority of those with the essential non-transferable skills that make the industry unique and so successful. Many of these freelancers have not benefited at any point from any of the Government’s support schemes.
The investment made via the Cultural Recovery Fund acknowledged the importance of the creative industries to the fabric of our nation. If the government does not act quickly and in a decisive manner, that money will have been wasted.
I therefore urge you in the strongest possible terms:
- urgently to lobby ministers, the Treasury and DCMS as hard as you can on behalf of Britain’s cultural industries for emergency financial help;
- to lobby hard for the Government to set out a clear and consistent official position as regards attendances at live events, since the lack of decisive leadership from the Government is making matters far worse than they need to be;
- to include in this lobbying recognition that any financial help has to work for the freelance creative workforce as well as for the buildings and companies, and provide support for all those theatre freelancers so far overlooked by government assistance.