The UK art sector thrives of its patronage and is the pride of the country. But the corona virus has destroyed the thriving world of arts. The British PM Boris Johnson has pledged to revive the art industry by pumping in £1.5billion to keep them from drowning.
Due to the social distancing protocols, there are empty halls and shows and this is costing the industry sleepless nights. The art industry has suffered the worst kind of time, something that no one had ever expected.
Culture being an important part of any country’s lifeline and breathing soul, this is another reason why many people are feeling home bound sick and depressed.
The amount pledged by Johnson would help theatres, music venues, museums and galleries.
This week galleries and museums have resumed operations under strict sanitisation and social distancing protocols put in place. This package is being considered as the biggest ever rescue investment been made in the history of UK’s culture. Speaking to the media Boris Johnson said arts and culture were the soul of the nation. “They make our country great and are the linchpin of our world-beating and fast-growing creative industries.”
The amount of the package has surprised everyone in the sector but it is indeed a welcome relief to all artists and associations. According to confirmed reports, the package will be divided equally to help every aspect of business and operations of the art and culture sector. To start with would be a £1.15bn support given to cultural organisations in England, consisting of £270m in loans and £880m in grants. From the pot itself, a £100m would be kept aside for England’s national cultural institutions and English Heritage. Then a sum of £120m would be used towards capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England paused because of the pandemic. Some amount is also being kept aside for devolved administrations that comprise £97m for Scotland, £59m for Wales and £33m for Northern Ireland.
From the political perspective, Johnson’s actions are never timely to save the day. They usually come forth when the damage has been done. According to industry experts the emergency funding might just be a little too late.
Germany for example was quick to take action for the sake of protecting its art and culture and pumped in €1bn to a fund supporting theatres, museums and other organizations. Their speedy action showed that they had preempted the damage a long drawn lockdown might have on the art and culture industry.
Some of the most well known theatres in the UK were forced to close shop last week. Nuffield Southampton Theatres having run for three decades is one to close down recently. The West End producer Nimax consulting has been forced to put a third of its workforce (130 people) on redundancy tags, the Manchester Royal Exchange has also been forced to contemplate the loss of 65% of its staff; and Theatre Royal Plymouth that has given off warnings that a third of its 340-strong workforce could go.
Industry still feels it’s too soon to say whether this healthy package could stave off the threat of redundancies already announced by theatres in both the commercial and subsidized sector. Performing arts venues for example can only use the investment package to keep afloat. They are still forced to keep their doors closed as income will continue to count to zero as they are forced to maintain the physically distanced protocols. The same fate is to be seen for theatres and music venues.
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