I have to say, I am missing a bit of cultural immersion. A sumptuous cinema seat, a calm, quiet gallery, a stuffy gig, an immersive play: they would all go down a treat.
Last month, I wrote a briefing on the uncertain future of theatres, and argued that without financial aid, many theatres would have to close their curtains for good. This week, the future of the arts is looking a lot healthier, with the UK government’s £1.57bn support package announced yesterday.
It seems that a trip to the theatre, cinema, live music venue, or a gallery is no longer a ghost of the past but a future possibility too. The funding aims to preserve “crown jewel” venues as well as supporting local institutions across the UK. It comes after several weeks of pressure from institutions across the arts and culture sector, many of which are at serious risk of bankruptcy.
The initial response to the new support package has been favourable, with many arts leaders saying it is more than they had hoped for. Julian Bird, chief executive of The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said he “hugely welcomed” the funding, and chief executive of Shakespeare’s Globe said the investment will allow them to reopen fully by early 2021. Many other arts chiefs have expressed their relief, and have called for the money to be distributed as fast as possible. The funding will be devolved too, with £97m of the support package going to Scotland.
The devil will be in the detail, however. The government has not yet clarified how the money will be split up between the arts or regions, so there are bound to be many who miss out on a vital slice of the cake. There are of course still concerns about social distancing in these venues: when will they be able to welcome audiences as usual? And, rumours are that the funding will not protect freelance workers: a crucial element of the arts sector.
So, with many questions yet to be answered, we will have to wait to see when – and how – the show will indeed go on.