UK union Bectu has called on the government to provide the culture and entertainment sector with further support in coming months after its announcement yesterday of additional COVID-19 restrictions, which could stretch to six months.
Head of Bectu Philippa Childs, responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement, said: “Theatres and live events are already on the brink – a further six months potentially without audiences could be the final nail in the coffin for many institutions unless the government takes further properly targeted action.
“The furlough scheme is coming to an end so many workers face imminent redundancy, and even those not at immediate risk will be wondering whether it is worth staying the course. As well as redundancy many hundreds are being laid off on the statutory lay off provisions of a maximum of £150 in 3 months.”
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She continued: “The government has to provide further sector specific support such as subsidised tickets, extending the furlough scheme and government-backed insurance for live events and theatre performances.
“If the government does not take immediate steps in this area we may not have a functioning theatre and events sector to return to when this is finally over.”
In July, the government announced a rescue package of £1.57BN to help the arts, culture and heritage industries, including the theater sector. However, many theaters remain shuttered due to the impact of coronavirus and the government’s Job Retention Scheme is due to finish at the end of next month.
The government has backed the film and TV sectors via a £500m insurance underwriting scheme.
Bectu, a division of the Prospect Union, reps 30,000 staff, contract and freelance workers in the creative industries including broadcasting, cinema, film, digital media, independent production, leisure, IT and telecoms, theatre and the arts.