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Lucy Thraves

Editor

Boris Johnson announces £1.57bn support package for the arts

9:51, 5th July 2020

The government has promised a £1.57 billion support package for the UK’s culture industries. 

Ministers suggested that the package would help to protect museums, galleries and theatres and music venues against permanent closure.

The news has been welcomed by arts organisations around the country, many of whom had been fearing for their futures.

The Association of British Orchestras said on Twitter: ‘We [welcome] the announcement of the government’s much-needed investment in the arts, which will help get orchestras back to work, starting behind closed doors this summer, and on to the point when we can welcome audiences, we hope, later this year.’

Deborah Annetts, Incorporated Society of Musicians’ chief executive, said: ‘We welcome this financial support targeted at our world-beating creative industries.

‘We are delighted that the government has listened to the ISM and many in the arts sector who have been calling on the government to step in and save our venues. Museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues will be able to apply for emergency grants and loans while doors stay closed, helping staff that work there.

‘Yet the vast majority of the near-200,000 people working in the music sector are freelancers and most of them have earnt nothing since March. While we are grateful to the government for the furlough and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the SEISS must be extended past August, which is the last month the second grant payment covers.

‘With no date for venues reopening, what will happen to musicians while they wait to be told that they can go back to work and perform in front of live audiences? Without additional and direct support for freelancers we risk a flood of talent leaving the industry. The government must urgently extent the SEISS, otherwise our talented musicians will face very hard times indeed.’

Tom Wilcox, a senior partner at arts management consultancy Counterculture said: ‘This is a welcome lifeline for the creative industries. Yet the sector knows it has much to do to remain economically viable in the years ahead.

‘The cultural sector must seize the opportunity of this unprecedented financial package to make changes in its business models; investing more in digital tools to support income generation and marketing to broaden audiences, as well as creating better economies of scale through mergers, partnerships and shared services. This is a moment to abandon much of yesterday’s organisational practice to maximise resources invested in producing and presenting great art.’

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