Greens must fight to stop the theatre industry dying before our eyes
Sonia Friedman recently warned that British theatre is on the “Brink of total collapse”. She’s right, our biggest cultural institutions will run out of money by September. The National Theatre, the RSC, the Royal Albert Hall, all face utter ruin unless further government support is announced.
Do I believe this support is being planned? Absolutely not. Oliver Dowden is starting to resemble Nero, fiddling over the burning of a British institution – an industry I have personally worked in my entire adult life. I love my work, we all do. We’d have to, considering the low pay, the terrible hours, the months away from your family. If you didn’t love it you wouldn’t do it. We bring £112 Billion to the economy each year, 34 million people go to the theatre each year – more than twice the yearly attendance of the Premier League. Despite all this – and the hundreds of thousands of jobs attached to the industry too – we have been forgotten.
The Green Party pf England and Wales has always supported the arts, but now we need to go a whole lot further. We must create a revolutionary arts policy of cultural renaissance after this pandemic. As part of this I am calling for the creation of a specific arts, theatre and television spokesperson for the Green Party. This would reflect our appreciation for a sector that will be one of the last to get back to normal. Socially distanced venues will be largely financially unviable so as part of this we must adopt the following measures to maximise their ability to survive self-sufficiently.
The 2m Rule must be applied practically in theatres, a gap of a seat between persons or groups from homes is entirely ample. This means rather than selling 30% of seats, they could sell 60-70% of seats, making the next policy more cost effective.
The government should step in for an immediate cash injection, followed by a policy allowing theatres to at least break even. This would mean the government stepping in to buy the surplus tickets for a venue to break even. Say a venue could sell 60% of seats adhering to social distancing, but the venue needs to sell 85% to break even. The government would then “buy” the other 25% needed.
Technicians and backstage staff must also be allowed to work practically within social distancing rules. It is impossible for us to do our jobs by staying 2m apart. We must be allowed to work in closer proximity with the appropriate PPE. Government self-employed support must be extended for this sector, as well as others. But specifically, for theatre staff.
There are a myriad of policies, but above all the Green Party needs to show the creative sector they are heard and they are respected. So far, no party has shown the level of support our industry needs, so it is time for our party to take that stand for the future of the creative industries we all know and love.
We have all turned to the arts for entertainment during this crisis. Please don’t now turn your backs on us.
PS. Bright Green has big plans for the future, but we need your input. Take 2 minutes to see what we’re planning and tell us your thoughts.
Image credit: Maltingsberwick – Creative Commons