Vanessa Redgrave has urged businesses and entrepreneurs to give money to help restore Britain’s coronavirus-threatened arts infrastructure.
The actor is expected to be joined by Sir Lenny Henry, Maxine Peake and Sir Trevor Nunn on Tuesday evening outside the National Theatre in support of an appeal to save jobs across the sector.
The arts is one of the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with unions and politicians predicting a “tsunami” of job losses.
In July the government announced a £1.57bn cultural recovery package, which includes grants and loans aimed at helping organisations survive the crisis.
But it is not meant to directly protect every job. Arts Council England, which is deciding where money goes, has warned that it will be unable to save every organisation.
“But we have to save everybody, is the point,” said Redgrave. “We have to save the arts for everybody.”
The actor said the planned gathering was not a protest or political, describing itas an appeal for support from people who work in the arts. “We’ve got to restore everything as it was, but better than before,” Redgrave said.
“We theatre and arts people must campaign to raise funds from private enterprise to add to any government funds, so that we can help to restore all the facilities and jobs of all the theatres, music and dance venues, museums, galleries, technical and creatives, teachers and coaches.”
The plan is to have a similar gathering, at Laurence Olivier’s statue, on the first day of every month to publicly renew the appeal.
Liam Neeson has sent his support. The actor said: “A true society cannot be whole nor fundamentally exist without the arts and the people employed in the arts.
“Culture is our society’s compass, our north star. If we lose our compass, we all lose our way. This appeal requires urgent attention. The character of our very existence as a nation is at stake.”
An estimated 5,000 jobs in theatre alone have already been lost because of the pandemic.
At the weekend a protest was held on London’s South Bank against more than 1,000 jobs being lost at the National Theatre, Tate and the Southbank Centre.
Last week the Royal Shakespeare Company became the latest arts organisation to announce it was to begin consultation on redundancies “to safeguard the long-term future of the company.” It also confirmed it would not reopen for full performances before 2021.
The latest data from the Office of National Statistics suggests the arts and entertainment industries are being hit harder by the pandemic than other areas of the economy.
It showed that 23% of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector had reported severe to moderate risk of insolvency, compared with 11% across all industries.
Source: The Guardian