The barbarians are not at the gate but actually in charge

European ‘Coronavirus’ emergency funding for the arts (approximate figures from various sources) currently stands at: France £6.5bn, Germany £900m, Italy £221m, Spain £68m, Ireland £18m and the UK – NIL.

I’m ready to bet that the UK has the largest performing arts sector of any of these countries – indeed that may well be why the government whose members are generally so rich as to not have to consider these things too deeply – thinks that the sector doesn’t need paying until they can resume activities. But of course many in the arts world are freelancers so if they’re not performing or producing they get no money. And Theatres Royal Newcastle and Plymouth have already made up to half their staff redundant.

Theatre Royal Plymouth is one of the biggest theatre production companies outside London and produces quantities of costumes and scenery for other UK theatres. But still 91% of its income comes from the box office – so there’s not much chance of making that up anytime soon.

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary proudly proclaimd a “roadmap” to get the performing arts back up and running. But there’s not much point in a roadmap if the overheads continue and there’s no money coming in. Has the government never heard of cash flow?

Is the government professing to admire the arts, while contriving to let a lot of theatres and other arts venues go bust because they understand that the arts foster imagination and dangerous free thought?

And are they also determined to burnish the idea that the arts are somehow unaffordable?

It is such a good job that they’ve never heard of Shakespeare.


  1. Coinneach -

    A major part of the Gov’t’s indifference to the Arts is that, compared to other European nations, Culture in the UK is grossly undervalued. It shows up in the rates of pay generally available to freelancers who make up the majority of the Creatives. A reciprocal touring arrangement mooted between UK and French jazz musicians collapsed when the French discovered that they could expect to be paid about a third of the rates they’re used to in France.

    1. Peter May -


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