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Arts industry reacts to £1.57bn lifeline from Government

UK News | Published:

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the economic support package for the sector on Sunday evening.

Man walks past closed London Palladium theatre

The Government’s £1.57 billion support package for the arts industry has been mostly well-received by those within the pandemic-ravaged sector.

The Tate, the Science Museum Group, the Natural History Museum, National Gallery and the Royal Shakespeare Company were among those who welcomed the money.

Meanwhile Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chair Julian Knight said the support package would take some cultural institutions out of the “danger zone”.

However, he said more was needed to secure the sector’s future, including possible tax breaks.

Labour shadow DCMS secretary Jo Stevens told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour that although the funding is a much-needed relief for the industry, for some it is “already too late”.

“I do wonder what took the government so long,” she said.

“They have known the problems in the sector for weeks and weeks and weeks and for some areas and some organisations and theatres across the country from north to south, it’s already too late, jobs have gone.

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“So the big things will be how quickly it’s going to get to people (and) how is it going to be spread around the country in towns and small cities, (where) arts and culture venues are so valuable to local economies.”

The funding was well-received by composer Lord Lloyd-Webber, who said the news was “truly welcome at a time when so many theatres, orchestras, entertainment venues and other arts organisations face such a bleak future”.

However not everyone in the industry reacted so positively to the announcement.

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After playwright Shelley Silas tweeted she did not believe the Tories had properly listened to the industry’s lobbying, fellow playwright Jack Thorne responded: “I disagree, and I know there’ll be those who believe we should never praise them, and of course it won’t be enough money, but I think they have listened and acted and I think we should say thank you. Won’t change how I feel about the vast majority of their politics obviously!”

Ms Silas followed up by writing she would be “interested to see a breakdown” of how the funding will be divided up, tweeting: “Happy for you to disagree Jack. I’d be interested to see a breakdown of where and which buildings/organisations the grants/loans go to. Hope the Nuffield can be saved. Prob too late.”

But their peer Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi was remaining optimistic.

She tweeted: “My fingers are crossed. My toes are crossed. My voice is still loud though in case it all falls through.

Comedian and TV presenter Jason Manford kept his thoughts to a simple “Thank you @RishiSunak.”

Former EastEnders actor Tracy Ann Oberman also tweeted her gratitude to the chancellor.

She wrote: “Thankyou @RishiSunak and to all theatre audiences who wrote to MPs and went out of their way to say that all arts were important to them . It will repay multi times over .  #saveourarts”

Armando Iannucci, writer and director of The Personal History of David Copperfield, hailed the funding on Twitter as “good news”.

“Won’t solve everything but it’s a very positive development,” he said.

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