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WGGB welcomes Government rescue package for the arts

WGGB has welcomed the announcement by the Government of a £1.57 billion rescue package for the creative industries in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown and pandemic.

It comes following months of campaigning by creative industry unions and bodies and warnings from leaders in the sector that it is on the brink of collapse.

Last month a report revealed that – despite growing at five times the rate of the wider economy before the pandemic – the creative industries will be hit twice as hard in 2020, with an expected revenue drop of £74 billion.

Theatre has been the worst hit, with Nuffield Southampton Theatres announcing 89 staff redundancies last week and saying it would close after it failed to find a buyer. Other theatres, including Manchester Royal Exchange and Theatre Royal Plymouth, looked like they could be set to follow suit.

WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: “We welcome the intervention from the Government, that represents just over 1.4% of the revenue (£111.7 billion) our industry generated for the UK economy pre-Covid. This investment should go some way to address some of the concerns of unions and organisations within the creative industries who have been lobbying and campaigning hard to protect the creative workforce.

“However, the devil will be in the detail and we will be scrutinising how and where these funds are distributed, and continuing to talk to Government and other stakeholders to ensure that the inequalities in our sector are addressed not reinforced by the distribution.

“We will also want to know how the self-employed creative workforce will be supported, especially those creative freelancers unable to find work or access Government help; how the health of the sector can be protected as the UK embarks on its long march to recovery; and how gains made on equality and diversity in recent years can be protected.

“In theatre we are also concerned that the pandemic will result in the drying up of new commissions and we will continue to call for the establishment of a nationally funded new commissions fund.”

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