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Government theatre roadmap met with criticism

The Government's 5 stage plan for a return to live theatrical and music performances has been met with widespread criticism for its lack of financial support to help in the current crisis.

Roadmap
  The 5 stage plan has been met with a great deal of criticism

The proposed government 'roadmap' for the return of live theatre and music making, which could well include potential brass band concerts and competitions has been met with widespread criticism that it does little to provide financial support or a clear indication of when it can be implemented.

It comes at a time when many leading actors, performers and administrators in the arts and cultural sector continue to demand that the government provide the type of emergency financial help that has been offered to other sectors of the economy.

No way back

On the BBC 'Coronavirus Newscast' daily podcast released on 25th June actors Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant spoke of their concerns.

"There is not an obvious way for it to come back,"David said when asked about the immediate proposals for theatres.

"We need to find a way to avoid the theatres not collapsing in the mean time. The safety of the audiences has to be paramount. There has to be a solution where we get some sort of help and that has to be on a government level to keep these theatres going until they can open properly. That is not going to happen any time soon."

Dame Judi Dench added: "I feel for everybody involved in a running a theatre… there is no guarantee."

Engine

When asked what financial help could be given to the industry, David Tennant added: "I don't know how much it needs, but I know that when we go come out of this the theatre can be the engine for economic growth.

For every pound of public money invested in the arts, five pounds is returned to the exchequer. 70% of theatres are saying they won't make it past Christmas — that would cultural implications for ever."

Five stage plan

On Thursday (25th June), Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden published the five-stage plan for a 'phased return' that will eventually result in indoor performances with audiences.

Stage One will see rehearsal and training (no audiences and adhering to social distancing guidelines), whilst Stage Two will enable performances for broadcast and recording purposes (adhering to social distancing guidelines).

Stage Three will see performances outdoors with an audience plus pilots for indoor performances with a limited distance audience, followed by Stage Four, which will see performances allowed indoors/outdoors (but with a limited distanced audience indoors).

It should eventually lead to Stage Five where performances will be allowed indoors/outdoors (with a fuller audience indoors)

...incompetence and ineptitude. A great shamePeter Moore.

Raise curtain

At the press conference, Mr Dowden said he wanted, "to raise the curtain on live performances" as soon as possible, and that the roadmap "provides a clear pathway back".

However, the announcement has been met with scorn, with the Actor's Union Equity saying without investment to save jobs and venues such guidance was "meaningless".

Birmingham Hippodrome and UK Theatre head Fiona Allan said it was "of no practical benefit" without a timescale.

Great shame

Meanwhile, Peter Moore, principal trombone of the London Symphony Orchestra said that "after months of deafening silence"he questioned had Oliver Dowden "listened to anybody across our sector?"

He summed his feelings up by stating in a tweet, "...incompetence and ineptitude. A great shame".

Cory MD, Philip Harper also used Twitter to pour scorn on the announcement made by the minister, saying that "Those of us working in the performing arts worked this out within a day of lockdown, but your patronizing 'bleedin obvious' response really helps..."

In response his response to the roadmap, the Music Venues Trust chief executive Mark Davyd stated: "We don't need guidance on how to organise creative activity and connect with audiences, this is what our venues do professionally.

"We need the money to survive the crisis and plan our own route back to full use."

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