Vanessa Redgrave calls for arts support

Writer:

Paul Genty

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Updated:

Major figures demand government aid for the sector

Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave joined mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on Thursday in demanding pandemic support for the arts.

Veteran actress and campaigner Redgrave has been calling for support for the arts across the country.

In Manchester she was also joined by former Royal Exchange Theatre associate director Marianne Elliott and one-time Young Musician of the Year, violinist Jennifer Pike, on the steps of the city’s Central Library.

The four made heartfelt pleas for financial help from the Chancellor, who recently said he thought the arts industry was financially “unviable”, despite representing spending of many billions a year.

Redgrave suggested today's wealthiest individuals and corporations, such as Facebook and Apple, should prop up the industry until it is able to open again – just as the wealthy nobility and merchants supported the arts in previous centuries.

Redgrave read out a letter from international theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn, who said, "The future of theatre in Manchester is threatened - gravely, devastatingly threatened. We beg of those vastly wealthy individuals or groups: please come to the rescue.

She added: "We're not ashamed to say 'save us'. There are a lot of theatres in danger, and we've got to get them support so they can get their people back. I'm not going to contemplate a city without theatres.”

Andy Burnham added: “Though some organisations have now been able to reopen their doors, many remain shut with no idea when they will be able to operate again, placing huge concerns on those who work in the industry as the furlough scheme comes to an end.”

The Government has previously announced a £1.57 billion support package for the arts amid the coronavirus pandemic, though few organisations seem so far to have physically received aid.

Stockport-raised Elliott, who directed top international hits such as War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, said: "Our industry has been decimated for months, and it's looking at months ahead with no income at all for many thousands of us.

"Manchester theatres are in dire need of support. The arts are viable, they have always been viable. The theatre industry was worth £7bn in the year before Covid.

"When the pandemic ends we, the theatre industry, can be at the forefront of drawing people back to city centres.“

c2019 TheatreReviewsNorth