RSC cautiously welcomes £1.5bn arts package

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The current edition of the Stratford Herald calls for help for the arts.

A £1.5bn rescue package for the arts has been welcomed by the RSC in Stratford.News that the money would be announced this week by Chancellor Rishi Sunak was greeted with cautious optimism by leaders across the sector, who have been campaigning for months to persuade the government to step in.

They argued that it made no sense for pubs, hairdressers and planes to be allowed to operate while theatre – a controlled environment – was still banned. And comparisons were made with other countries around the world who were putting billions into financial support packages for culture and the arts.

Last week, the Herald put its weight behind a Stratford bid to urge the government to take action. Councillors came together to offer a stark message about the future of the whole Shakespeare industry – including the RSC and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – if help was not forthcoming quickly.

Yesterday, that help arrived in the shape of a pledge to pump £1.57bn into the arts and culture sector. The details were expected to be revealed later today (Monday).

In a joint statement, the RSC’s artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon said: “We are very pleased and relieved to hear news of the government’s support package and investment in the arts and culture sector during this critical time.

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran photographed outside the RSC by Mark Williamson.

“Thank you to the DCMS, HM Treasury and the many people in the sector who have worked together to demonstrate the critical role the arts play in our economic wellbeing and public life. We hope this investment will provide meaningful support for the whole sector: for the skilled workforce who create world-class theatre, and for theatres and companies at every scale throughout the UK.

“We are all ready to be part of a powerful civic, emotional and economic recovery for the country, and will be invaluable contributors to the UK’s ability to re-emerge from the pandemic locally, nationally and on a world stage.

“We look forward to receiving the detail of the support package, when we will see in full how this will help the survival of the sector, and support our next steps to welcoming audiences back to live theatre.”

Deputy artistic director Erica Whyman was cautious in her response to the news on Twitter. She tweeted: “We must make sure together this goes as far as possible to support the extraordinary workforce of UK theatre. I am cautious about the detail, anxious about the amount, aware we have serious work to do to distribute effectively. But this took graft & for that I’m grateful.”

Follow the Stratford Herald online and don’t miss this Thursday’s paper for the latest information.