Arts group calls for ‘clarity, guidance and resource' to help the ailing sector

The letter was sent on behalf of the West Midlands Culture Response Unit.

An arts organisation in the West Midlands has asked for the Government to provide “clarity, guidance and resource” to help the ailing cultural sector.

The West Midlands Culture Response Unit, which works with arts organisations and local authorities in the region, warned that the industry faces collapse.

Erica Love, director of Culture Centre, who wrote the letter on behalf of the unit, said arts organisations “need answers now” so they can plan ahead.

City stock – Birmingham
Symphony Hall, Birmingham (Joe Giddens/PA)

“The long weeks of lockdown have placed even greater reliance on television and digital performances,” she wrote.

“Our sector has been working hard to innovate and think of safe and exciting ways to bring arts and culture to audiences who are desperate to come together again – but without clear guidelines and funding, it is not possible.”

The letter called for an expansion of the staff retention schemes and help for the self-employed, as well as grants and investment to cover the adaptation of venues in line with social distancing guidelines.

The unit also said that the Government should give permission for outdoor performances to take place during the summer months and also provide greater clarity around dates for reopening.

“We look with envy at other countries where proper regard is given to this aspect of life and where live performances are gradually becoming possible once more,” the letter said.

It added: “Without the urgent revision of the guidelines, the whole of the cultural sector and almost all who work in this vital sector will be faced with the collapse of their organisations, the loss of craft skills acquired over decades and the further mass unemployment.”

Newcastle Theatre Royal job cuts
Newcastle’s Theatre Royal announced a wave of redundancies last week (Newcastle Theatre Royal/PA)

Last week the Theatre Royal in Newcastle announced plans to make half of its staff redundant and the Theatre Royal Plymouth said they are starting consultations about job losses following a plunge in revenues.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has previously unveiled a five-stage plan that could see the return of the performing arts.

The next stage is outdoor performances with socially-distanced spectators, as well as pilots for indoor performances with a limited crowd.

It then allows for performances to take place inside with a limited, socially-distanced audience, before performances are permitted both indoors and outdoors, with more people allowed in the audience.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been contacted for comment.

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