UK launches £1.57bn plan to save theatres, museums and music venues from coronavirus

UK launches £1.57bn plan to save theatres, museums and music venues from coronavirus
UK launches £1.57bn plan to save theatres, museums and music venues from coronavirus

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The UK is launching a £1.57 billion project to save theatres, museums and live music venues that are close to collapse in the coronavirus-induced economic downturn.

The money includes £880 million (Dh4.03bn/US$1.09bn) of grants for cultural institutions and £270m of repayable loans, made available by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The Treasury has announced a £111m plan to triple the number of traineeships nationwide, as part of expanded measures to protect jobs.

“The show must go on,” Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in a tweet announcing the plan late on Sunday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From iconic theatre and musicals, and mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country.

“This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff while their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.”

The plight of the entertainment industry has been highlighted during the coronavirus by stars including Dame Judi Dench.

While the UK is reopening, live venues and theatres are low on the list for a return to normal because it is proving tricky to open while social distancing measures are in place.

Ministers are trying to rescue the British economy after the pandemic plunged it into deep recession.

Galleries, heritage sites and independent cinemas will also be eligible for the cultural grants.

The arts funds also included £100m support for English national cultural institutions and the English Heritage Trust, £188m for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and £120m for infrastructure projects.

The government said the money was the biggest one-off investment in UK culture, and would give a lifeline to cultural and heritage organisations across the country.

“Our world-renowned galleries, museums, heritage sites, music venues and independent cinemas are not only critical to keeping our economy thriving, employing more than 700,000 people, they’re the lifeblood of British culture,” Mr Sunak said.

“That’s why we’re giving them the vital cash they need to safeguard their survival, helping to protect jobs and ensuring that they can continue to provide the sights and sounds that Britain is famous for."

Mr Johnson pledged to publish a timetable this week outlining when theatres and music venues would be allowed to reopen.

Pubs, hairdressers and museums were allowed to open their doors this weekend after more than three months of lockdown.

It represents a high-profile win for a part of the economy that has greatly contributed to Britain’s international image over the years.

Last week, set designers and other industry workers covered empty theatres nationwide in tape with the message: “Missing live theatre.”

Armando Iannucci, one of the country’s leading political satirists, wrote an open letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden last month asking why a chunk of the economy that he says supports 400,000 jobs was being sidelined.

Updated: July 6, 2020 03:29 AM

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