Theatre Vs Covid-19: The Funds Arrive
Where are we at now:
In our last Arts News Item in the Theatre vs Covid -19 series published on October 11th we looked at the various venues and productions companies beginning there fight back to get the arts and theatrical industry back on its feet as we continue to wait for the long promised funding to be made available Since then both the UK and Scottish Governments have announce large tranches of funds to support the arts as they continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic.
It is inevitable that far to many companies, venues and vitally freelancers will still be left to fall through the cracks and struggle on as the industry continues feel the effects of not just the virus but also the fight to be heard by those with the power of the purse This has been born true in the case of Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre one of Scotland’s few independent large scale theatres who have caused a social media storm of recent. . It is a shameful condemnation of what government thinks of the arts. It has been especially interesting for those of us who allow our passion for it to be the driving factor the arts will survive and flourish and the world and our lives will be better for it.
So, let us take a look at where some of the money is going.
Edinburgh’s Capital Theatres the charitable trust that over sees the Festival, King’s and Studio Theatre’s in Edinburgh has been awarded a £500,000 grant from the Scottish Government. This is in addition to the £250,000 previously awarded. ( although smaller venues in the city ie The Royal Lyceum and Traverse Theatres were awarded a far higher allocation in the first round).
There continues to be a serious threat to the historic King’s Theatre Edinburgh which prior to the Pandemic had secured funding towards the redevelopment of the old lady of leven street and that remains under threat.
Fiona Gibson CEO of Capital Theatres said:
“The emergency funding announcement from the Scottish Government for Capital Theatres is greatly appreciated. It is the short-term financial lifeline that we have campaigned tirelessly for in recent months, bringing us parity with many fellow performing arts venues of similar scale in Scotland. We would very much like to thank the Scottish Government for their support and recognition, acknowledging the crucial contribution our flagship theatres provide to the local, national and cultural sector economies. This will enable us to continue supporting our core staff, freelancers and communities alike.
That being said, this is very much, a long and extremely challenging road to recovery for Capital Theatres and we are still focused on securing the future of the organisation long-term. The funding we have received to date from The Scottish Government represents a very welcome contribution to our trading deficit this year. As Scotland’s largest theatre charity, recovery of this lost income is desperately needed in order for us to fully reopen the doors of our three much loved venues – The Festival Theatre, The King’s Theatre and The Studio.
Importantly Capital Theatres’ planned £25million redevelopment of The King’s Theatre still remains under threat. With two-thirds of the required funding in place from a range of sources, the stage was set to progress this vital historic redevelopment of national importance. However, the theatre’s development fund, a designated fund built up over many years specifically for this capital project, has needed to be utilised to enable Capital Theatres to simply function through the pandemic, therefore placing the redevelopment in a precarious position.
The stark truth is that with the pandemic trajectory continuing to significantly impact our ability to potentially open our doors well into 2021, there is still so much more that needs to be done to truly reflect the long-term scale of the crisis facing our theatres. Our objective continues to be to avoid closure of the King’s and to sustain the organisation’s venues for the long term so they can continue to play their vital role in Scotland’s year-round arts scene and support of the health and wellbeing of the many vulnerable communities we serve.
The Pavilion Theatre Glasgow:
The Pavilion have just recently completed a successful crowd funding campaign to turn there 2020 Pantomime offering “Santa Clause is coming to town” into a free digital broadcast. The home of Scottish variety has always been vocal in its attempts to overcome the tough situations its faced over the years.
However, the theatre unleashed a social media tirade against the London Palladium earlier in October as the iconic London based venue opened for socially distant performances that met the restrictions enforced by the UK Government.
While there is merit to statement made by Iain Gordon the simple facts have been ignored, The London Palladium is covered by the restrictions in place by the UK Government where as Covid Restriction in Scotland fall under the Scottish Government remint. Yet no Scottish venue has been allowed to open. To further fan the flames by comparing arts to sport does nothing to help that argument either.
The arts should unite so that the example used by London Palladium, which yes was sold out with the capacity vastly reduced and met social distancing restrictions can be applied to venues around the UK and it may force the Scottish Government to look again at its ongoing ban on not just the arts but hospitality and the many industries struggling to survive. That said the Pavilion has always been the Glasgow people’s theatre and its statements will always pack a punch.
Funding in England:
South of the border 35 venues and companies were informed there were to receive grants that range from £1 million to £3 million each. Amongst the 35 organisations are English National Ballet, Sadler’s Wells and the Old Vic in London.
The higher tier of grants is for larger organisations that need more than £1 million but not more than the starting value of the loans (£3 million) on offer for even bigger organisations.
In response to the announcement, Old Vic actor Andrew Scott said: “Today’s announcement is a hugely exciting and positive step forward in helping the Old Vic survive and thrive. Over its 200-year lifetime, hundreds of thousands of performers, creatives, technical crews, back-of-house teams and everyone else in-between have worked together to make The Old Vic the cultural icon it is today.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund, today we’re saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3 million – from Shakespeare’s Globe to the Sheffield Crucible. These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are. This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away.”
While there is more funding to be announced it is welcome to see the bulk of the current grants going to the regions but it’s expected that London both on and off west end will feature heavily in the upcoming funding announcements. While its accepted that money will not reach every single arts organisation its hoped this funding will reach its way to those most in need.
A full list of organisations receiving grants is below:
Adlib Audio Limited – £1,650,356
BH Live – £2,499,531
Bill Kenwright Limited – £1,526,028
Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust – £3,000,000
Birmingham Museums Trust – £1,872,750
Birmingham Repertory Theatre – £1,380,023
Black Country Living Museum Trust – £2,559,805
Design Museum – £2,968,634
Dulwich Picture Gallery – £1,357,823
English National Ballet – £3,000,000
Exchange Events Ltd (Gandey Productions) – £1,092,503
Fabric Life Ltd – £1,514,262
Hull City Council – £1,615,725
Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust – £1,860,000
Leeds Grand Theatre & Opera House Ltd – £1,545,163
Leeds Theatre Trust Limited (Playhouse) – £2,381,547
Lights Control Rigging Productions Ltd – £1,076,179
London Transport Museum – £1,750,000
Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust – £3,000,000
North Music Trust (Sage Gateshead) – £1,800,000
Northampton Theatres Trust (Royal & Derngate) – £2,112,891
Norwich Theatre – £3,000,000
Performances Birmingham Limited – £2,534,675
Rambert – £1,283,835
Royal Exchange Theatre Company Ltd – £2,854,444
Sadler’s Wells – £2,975,000
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – £3,000,000
Shakespeare’s Globe – £2,985,707
Sheffield Theatres Trust Ltd – £2,246,000
The ACC Liverpool Group Limited – £2,972,659
The Mayflower Theatre Trust – £3,000,000
The Octagon Theatre Trust – £620,232
The Old Vic Theatre Trust 2000 – £3,000,000
Theatre Royal (Plymouth) Ltd £1,896,000
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre 1982 LTD £1,187,530
So there we have it, its nice to have some positive news for the arts after 8 months of closure, and with many productions now announcing there return to opening in the west end (with social distancing in full force).
This is just however the tip of the ice berg, so much more sustained financial help is required, if our industry as we knew it prior to covid is to re-emerge fully its needs help of government and its audiences to survive what its going to be a long winter for us all.
Lets as an industry continue to unite and keep those Ghost lights burning bright as we slowly but surely open the theatres of this country once more. We must also remember the arts is more than theatres, from the solo singer on cruise ship to a leading star in the west end the denial of the right perform is the hardest cross to bear, but maybe just maybe there is a chink of light at last in a long tunnel.