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Theatres and arts venues across the UK are welcoming the government's announcement of a £1.57billion support package to help protect the future of the cultural sector.
The extensive rescue package follows several weeks of public campaigns and months of industry leaders warning that the arts would be on the brink of collapse without any meaningful government intervention.
The cultural sector can now embark on its road to recovery and plan for its future thanks to a 'generous' investment which has exceeded the expectations of many. This includes £880million of grants and £270million of repayable loans in England, plus an extra £97million, £59million and £33million for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
Finer detail of how the money will be distributed amongst various art forms - and a detailed plan for when venues can reopen - is still to come, but for now the UK's theatres and music venues can rest easier than at any time during the last 100 days.
Fiona Allan, Birmingham Hippodrome Artistic Director & CEO, was one of the region's first campaigners to voice her delight at the news. A statement released by the theatre late Sunday evening read: "We are overjoyed to hear the announcement that UK government will be investing £1.57billion to protect our nation's world-class cultural, arts & heritage institutions during this time of crisis. This is welcomed news, as we were at the point where, without intervention, we would have seen 70% of theatres across the UK close.
"This support will mean that more venues, jobs and companies can survive, and there will be an industry to return to when we can do so safely. Theatres play an important civic role in our society, bringing communities together and helping regional economies thrive.
"We still have a lot of work to do, and while we wait for further details on how this may directly benefit Birmingham Hippodrome, we are now able to turn our focus to rebuilding what we have lost and planning for the future."
The Royal Shakespeare Company also revealed its relief at the announcement, with Executive Director Catherine Mallyon and Artistic Director Gregory Doran issuing the following joint statement: “We are very pleased and relieved to hear news of the government’s support package and investment in the arts & culture sector during this critical time.
"Thank you to the DCMS, HM Treasury and the many people in the sector who have worked together to demonstrate the critical role the arts play in our economic wellbeing and public life. We hope this investment will provide meaningful support for the whole sector: for the skilled workforce who create world-class theatre, and for theatres and companies at every scale throughout the UK.
"We are all ready to be part of a powerful civic, emotional and economic recovery for the country, and will be invaluable contributors to the UK’s ability to re-emerge from the pandemic locally, nationally and on a world stage.
“We look forward to receiving the detail of the support package, when we will see in full how this will help the survival of the sector, and support our next steps to welcoming audiences back to live theatre.”
A statement from Birmingham Repertory Theatre reads: "Birmingham Repertory Theatre wholeheartedly welcomes this vital pledge of support from Government for the UK’s world-leading arts sector. This vote of confidence recognises our industry’s huge role in the economic, educational, and social wellbeing of the UK.
"As the Second City’s major producing theatre, The REP can now look forward to making our contribution to recovery. Working with other organisations, freelancers, ACE and DCMS, we hope that funds can be distributed in a representative and inclusive way that embraces the challenges and creative opportunities of working in a new cultural landscape.
"The recently announced Theatre Artists Fund, which has been set up to provide emergency support for theatre workers and freelancers across the UK, is also a welcome development in ensuring the future of the UK’s cultural landscape, and support a large part of the industry’s workforce.
"Whilst we have been continuing with our wider civic mission during these unprecedented times - proceeding with our vital education and outreach work, and engaging with our communities - we can now also look forward to creating new shows, and welcoming audiences back to our building once it is safe to do so.
"At a time where Birmingham’s vibrant cultural renaissance will be coming to the forefront of international attention in Commonwealth Games '22, it is reassuring to know that this investment will enable The REP to grow our international reputation as a leading producing theatre, and to contribute to the life of the nation with playful, popular and pioneering theatre for all."
Image: Birmingham Hippodrome
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