The DCMS Committee is urging the government to take immediate action to enable the cultural and sporting sectors to recover from the impact of Covid-19. It is calling on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to use the pause created by the latest Covid-19 restrictions to implement a number of recommendations that would enable venues and stadiums to plan a return of audiences to capacity when it is safe to do so.
Many theatres and venues have been unable to reopen because the requirements of social distancing for audiences have made it financially unviable to do so, with more closures of arts venues and organisations expected. Theatre producer and composer Llord Lloyd-Webber has spoken of the arts sector having reached “a point of no return.”
The Committee has warned that a sector which contributed £32.3 billion to the UK economy in 2018 is facing mass redunancies without an extension to the job retention scheme for the arts and leisure sectors.
DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:
“We recognise that rising cases of Covid-19 mean that plans for a limited return of crowds to sporting events have to be put on hold.
“However this has created an opportunity for ministers to develop a robust strategy that will allow for the safe return of audiences to events – particularly in our theatres and performance venues - when the time is right.
“We know that without the ability to get in audiences in greater numbers, many theatres simply can’t afford to keep running. The collapse of such vital pillars in our cultural landscape would be devastating.
“That’s why I plan to urge the government today in the House of Commons to acknowledge the dire prospects facing this sector and commit to its support, firstly by acknowledging the specific recommendations made by this Committee and secondly by providing sector-specific funding to allow them to be implemented.”