Emergency funding of more than £9m for the arts across the North is a first step in trying to mitigate the damage caused by the Covid pandemic.
Arts Council England says the money has been awarded initially to those organisations that were most likely to go bankrupt in the next few months. All venues have been closed since March 16, with catastrophic loss of income.
Theatre companies include the larger producing houses of Sheffield Crucible (£675,569), Leeds Playhouse (£669,326) and Royal Exchange (£571,000), as well as Theatre By The Lake (£180,000), Blackpool Grand (£193,000), Storyhouse (£101,000), HOME (£156,000), Northern Ballet Theatre (£500,00), Oldham Coliseum (£80,000), Duke’s Playhouse (£122,471), The Lowry (£1,292,000), Bury Met (£31,999), York Theatre Royal (£196,493) and Unity Theatre, Liverpool (£74,995).
Meanwhile, the government has confirmed that outdoor performances, with social distancing, will be allowed from July 11 but there is still no date for theatres to open for indoor performances without social distancing.
The government has now also published detailed guidance for how theatres can stay Covid-safe while creating shows, and eventually resume live indoor performance – little of which will apply in the immediate future. Various trials are underway to see how theatres could be made Covid-safe.
Northern Ballet tweeted: “Thank you for the hugely welcome and needed support from the emergency fund, which will help us through these difficult times when there has been no income from touring and cash flow has become a major challenge for the organisation.”
The Royal Exchange tweeted: “Huge thanks to @ace_national for the welcome news that we are a recipient of their Emergency Response Fund. This will support our financial viability through the summer to the end of September.”
Oldham Coliseum’s artistic director Chris Lawson said: “This commitment from the government is a really positive step. As an industry we are indebted to DCMS, UK Theatre and everyone who has lobbied for the arts in the past weeks.”
HOME CEO Dave Moutrey said: “It is a clear signal of the importance of arts and culture in UK life."
ACE chief executive Darren Henley added that as well as protecting their mainly building-based clients, the council is “urgently thinking” about how the arts freelance workforce can be helped.
“We’re very aware that this crisis has shown the value and vulnerability of the creative army of freelance artists who constitute the majority of our workforce,” he said.
Nationally, 196 of the ACE-supported organisations are receiving the extra emergency funding in this wave. Of the total offered, 39 per cent has gone to organisations in London, 27 per cent to the North, 17 per cent to the Midlands, with the South East and South West getting nine and eight per cent respectively.