theatre seats

Cultural recovery must include freelancers

WGGB has welcomed £257 million of new funding, announced today (12 October 2020) by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, but believes that it does not go far enough in protecting the creative freelancers who power the sector.

The funding represents the first round of the Cultural Recovery Fund, totalling £1.57 billion, administered by Arts Council England and announced in July this year in response to Covid-19.

Nearly 1,400 arts organisations, including theatres, who applied for grants of under one million, found out today if they had received the emergency support.

It comes as a welcome relief for venues who had to shut their doors overnight at the end of March and have faced months of uncertainty since, with some having to close permanently.

WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said:

“It is of course welcome news that theatres are finally getting the help they have needed since day one of lockdown, but this does little to address the plight of the millions of freelance workers who are still falling through the gaps of Government support.

“Saving theatre isn’t just about protecting buildings, it’s about recognising the role of freelance writers and other creative workers who continue to be left out in the cold.

“We will continue to call on Government to expand the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to ensure no freelancer gets left behind.”

The news comes on the same day that Boris Johnson was set to announce a Three Tier system of lockdown restrictions, with the North of England expected to face the most stringent measures, spelling more uncertainty for jobs.

The same day, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden received widespread criticism for telling a news reporter that those working in the arts should “hang in there” for as long as they could, and distanced himself and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport from what he called a “crass” campaign, backed by the Government, encouraging people working in the arts to reskill by turning to a career in cyber-security.