Today the All Party Parliamentary Group for Theatre was taking evidence on “How Local Authorities and Theatres can help each other recover from Covid-19”.
MPs and Peers were joined by Speakers from The RSC, HOME Manchester.Islington Council and the Local Government Association.
The background to the session reads as follows:
“Councils have played an important role in supporting the theatre sector. During the COVID 19 pandemic and theatres have worked to support their local communities in a variety of ways. It has been a year of incredible challenges, and would have been even bleaker were it not for national Government support schemes, including the Cultural Recovery Fund, JRS, and SEISS, and support by local authorities for their theatre venues.
This session aims to look at what is needed next for theatres to succeed locally, and for local areas to flourish. As a result, this session forms one part of many conversations across the UK, about how local government can work with the theatre sector to deliver a sustainable, national and local recovery.
Theatre can play a vital role in recovery from supporting high street renewal and the night-time and visitor economies to delivering against social outcomes including mental wellbeing, educational achievement, and social cohesion. But theatres cannot do it without strong local partnerships.
The theatre industry understand the extraordinary pressures on local government finances, and the difficult decisions that they will face in the coming years, however, this is a critical moment, to ensure that local cultural provision is protected as once lost, it is difficult to recover.”
My friend Dr Maria Barrett, who is a valued contributor to these events, noted that Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council began by pointing out what is often overlooked – local authorities are incredibly important in supporting local theatres – they represent £1bn of funding (2x the Arts Council’s budget), they run 116 theatres directly, and own over 500. Hugely important points to remember.
More information and video of the presentations will be available shortly on the APPG Theatre page of the UK Theatre website which you can find here