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Newham theatre bosses call for £1.5billion support for arts to be shared quickly and fairly

PUBLISHED: 12:01 08 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:23 09 July 2020

Along with venues up and down the country Brick Lane Music Hall was forced to close its doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. Its founder, Vincent Hayes, has welcomed a £1.5billion government bail out for the arts industry. Picture: Colin Grainger

Along with venues up and down the country Brick Lane Music Hall was forced to close its doors because of the coronavirus pandemic. Its founder, Vincent Hayes, has welcomed a £1.5billion government bail out for the arts industry. Picture: Colin Grainger

Colin Grainger

The survival of theatres depends on a £1.5billion government bail out being shared fairly and quickly.

Stratford East Theatre RoyalStratford East Theatre Royal

That’s the message from two theatre directors in Newham following a long-awaited announcement of help for the culture and arts industry on Monday, July 6.

Artistic director Nadia Fall and executive director Eleanor Lang from Theatre Royal Stratford East said: “After much anticipation and anguish the welcome news of a government bailout will be a much needed lifeline for our industry at such a precarious time.

“There will of course be an application process for theatres to gain access to the financial support, speed and fair distribution will be key to ensure our survival.

“We are committed to doing our utmost in order for our staff, our freelance collaborators, who make up a significant part of our work force, and our beautiful building get through the closure and thrive beyond it.”

Nadia Fall is artistic director at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Picture: Michael ShelfordNadia Fall is artistic director at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Picture: Michael Shelford

The bail out is to be made up of £270million in repayable finance and £880m in grants which will be dished out with the help of organisations including Arts Council England and the British Film Institute.

Brick Lane Music Hall founder Vincent Hayes said he felt delighted theatre had been recognised.

The 28 year old Royal Docks based venue has cancelled shows and furloughed staff with some having received redundancy notices.

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On the future, Vincent said: “My mantra is always that the show must go on. But public health must come first. Even if I mothball [Brick Lane Music Hall] for a while, it will be here like a butterfly waiting to crawl out of its cocoon and open again.”

But Vincent wondered what would be left of the government bail out with national institutions likely to take the “lion’s share”.

“We have never had grants. We have made a success of this theatre for Newham from humble origins. We’re very proud of the support we get. People want to come, but we can’t ask them to risk their health,” Vincent said.

Theatres, palaces, museums, galleries, live music venues and independent cinemas will be able to apply for a share of the emergency grants and loans.

The money represents “the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture” and will offer a “lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations” hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the government.

Stratford Circus Arts Centre also welcomed the rescue package.

Interim CEO Lucy Atkinson said: “A truly successful and thriving creative sector relies on a huge network of organisations and individuals, many of whom are grassroots and self-employed.

“We hope the government recognises this so the benefit of this money can be seen throughout the sector at every level, in order for us to stay thriving in the future.”

She thanked Arts Council England after the centre was awarded £200,000 in emergency funding to compensate for lost income.


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