Campaign pushes for 'Seat Out to Help Out' subsidy

Writer:

Paul Genty

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Campaign backed by thousands of arts workers

A new campaign hopes to persuade the Government to implement a ”Seat Out to Help Out” scheme similar to the “Eat Out” programme that helped restaurants to attract diners.

The #OneVoiceCampaign brings together more than 7,500 arts professionals and is currently being discussed by the Culture Department and Treasury

Campaign founders Andrew Staples and Sam Evans have the support of major arts organisations and unions.

They estimate the cost of a stimulus plan would be around half a billion pounds over six months. Most theatres admitting customers are operating at less than 35 per cent capacity, and the scheme would effectively double their ticket revenue by matching the value of tickets sold.

The campaign reckons this would boost the regeneration of the cultural sector as well as providing some work for freelance performers and musicians and giving a boost to the associated night-time economy.

If the government bought 30 per cent of tickets for live entertainment performances across the UK, Staples and Evans believe the cost would be around £469 million, operating on a capped price of £25, over six months. The Eat Out to Help Out campaign in August cost around £500 million over 12 days.

The campaign organisers says the two schemes sound similar but in practice have slightly different aims. The Eat Out campaign hoped to stimulate restaurant use and the service economy, while the theatre campaign would help theatres to supply a demand that already exists. This demand cannot be fulfilled because theatres cannot afford to mount the shows they know the public wants to see - meaning everyone associated with live performing, including restaurants and bars, loses out.

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