I write to you today regarding the grave situation that our world renowned Arts Industry and the lack of support by your government.
It is important that the health of the country comes first, but it is truly appalling the lack of urgency your government has shown towards a vital area of the economy and life and soul of Britain, is concerning.
The creative industries contribute billions towards the economy. More people attend compared to football matches. Yet the government appears to believe soundbites are what’s needed to save an industry while focusing on bringing football back.
It’s been widely reported that without acting to support this industry, the government will force 70% of arts organisations to fold by the end of this year. Already, we are seeing organisations making damaging cuts to its workforce as the furlough scheme starts to move the cost burden onto the employers. While this makes sense for industries that are now open, it doesn’t make sense to expect theatres and others in the creative sector to contribute towards this scheme while they have no revenue.
The move to support the arts doesn’t just secure the future of this sector though. It ensures they can bounce back and save those sectors that depend on its success, such as tourism, hotels and restaurants. It also ensures the continuation of vital outreach programmes that support people that society often leaves left behind.
As Brexit happens in 2021, it’s essential we continue to have an international reputation for our world leading industries. Without support, our famous arts industries will fall. Without this industry, our country is nothing. As Winston Churchill said in response to cutting the arts during the war ‘then, what are we fighting for’. It’s a shame the current government appears to not share that view.
For a number of weeks, the creative industries have asked the government for support. It took seven weeks just for the government to create a task force that has no budget, to try and work on a plan going forward. To this day, there is no plan. Instead, the government’s focus is on Rugby, Football and Golf.
For weeks, your colleague Oliver Dowden has said he will not let this industry die. However, day by day he is allowing just that. Nimax Theatres, Cameron Mackintosh, The Birmingham Hippodrome, Newcastle Theatre Royal have all announced a redundancy programme because your failed furlough scheme isn’t taking the right steps to prevent wiping out an entire industry.
Many in the government claim the support for the economy is ‘unparalleled’. Other countries including France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland and more have all moved to protect their creative industries. Your government meanwhile sits on its hands, watching the decimation of an industry that before the lockdown put Britain on the map.
If the government can support football, rugby and travel to name a few, it must support our creative industries. Without a thriving cultural industry at its heart, our country is nothing.
I don’t want to be the generation that has to explain in the future why our creative industries didn’t survive 2021 and I hope you will commit to pressuring the government to do more to support the arts.