Boris Johnson Pledges £1.5bn Lifeline To Save UK’s Arts Sector

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Arts directors on Monday welcomed the British government’s pledge of more than 1.5 billion pounds (1.9 billion dollars) to help venues crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak promised a 1.57-billion-pound “rescue package” amid fears that financial problems could prevent many smaller venues and even some leading names from reopening.

The government said the scheme would allow thousands of organisations across the performing arts, heritage, historic buildings, museums, galleries and live music venues to access emergency grants and loans.

“From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

According to him, the money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat.

Arts directors welcomed the pledge, but actors’ union Equity, which represents some 48,000 people, said it was unclear how the scheme would support the many “freelance and self-employed creative workers our UK arts infrastructure depends on.”

“This package will be crucial in helping to safeguard the future life of our orchestras as well as all our associate artists and creative partners,’’ said Elaine Bedell, chief executive of London’s Southbank Centre.

Rufus Norris and Lisa Burger, joint chief executives of the National Theatre, said they felt “very positive that this major investment will reach and sustain the vital talent and infrastructure which make British theatre truly world-leading.”

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