- Title: UK pledges boost for the arts, eyes socially distant performances
- Date: 6th July 2020
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - MARCH 28, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF ROYAL ALBERT HALL
- Embargoed: 20th July 2020 09:18
- Keywords: Arts COVID-19 Minister Oliver Dowden UK coronavirus government spending
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Theater
- Reuters ID: LVA001CLO9GNH
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Britain will invest nearly $2 billion in the arts and hopes to allow outdoor and socially distanced performances at cultural venues as it tries to help a high-profile sector hit hard by the coronavirus.
Spanning theatres in London's West End, opera houses and ballet companies putting on big-budget performances to provincial venues up and down the country, the industry is a prominent British export and popular among tourists and locals alike.
But it has been left without a live audience since lockdown measures were imposed in March while other sectors begin to reopen.
"Arts are at the absolute heart of our national life, whether it's your local theatre where you go to see the panto or part of the history of our nation from Shakespeare to Ed Sheeran. It's essential that we preserve that," culture minister Oliver Dowden told BBC News on Monday (June 6), giving a breakdown of how the money will be distributed across the arts sector.
The government said the 1.57 billion pound ($1.96 billion) investment was the biggest ever for Britain's culture sector.
On Saturday (June 5), England took its biggest steps yet towards the resumption of normal life when pubs, hairdressers and restaurants reopened, helped by the government cutting social distancing guidelines from two metres to one metre-plus.
But it is unclear how that could be implemented in many cultural venues which rely on near-full capacity to turn a profit.
The Royal Albert Hall, home to events such as the 8-week long run of classical music concerts known as the BBC Proms, warned late last month that it would run out of cash by early 2021 as it lost income and refunded tickets.
On Monday it welcomed the government's cash boost for the sector, which includes grants and repayable finance.
(Production: Michael Fiorentino, Bharati Naik)
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