Hastings theatres welcome Government’s emergency package for arts industry

Theatres in Hastings have welcomed the Government’s £1.57bn package to support and protect the arts and entertainment industry.

Thursday, 9th July 2020, 2:46 pm
White Rock Theatre in Hastings. SUS-200318-133303001

The measure was announced on Monday (July 6) after lobbying from the industry’s leaders across the country.

They warned that many performing arts venues were on the brink of collapse due to lost revenue brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Neil Sellman, chairman of the Stables Theatre, said: “It’s great that the Government has, once again, responded to petitioning and been able to make this sum of money available. As yet we are unsure as to who and for what the money is to be allocated, we hope amateur theatres, like the Stables, will be able to apply - we will wait and see.”

Julian Russell, chief executive of HQ Theatres & Hospitality, which owns the White Rock Theatre in Hastings, said: “While we warmly welcome the proposed investment package, the details regarding the destination of the investment or its fuller intentions are yet unknown.

“We hope there will be some more clarity over the coming days/weeks but until such time we receive this we cannot say with any certainty what it means for regional theatre, producers, artists and all who work in the sector.”

Hastings and Rye MP, Sally-Ann Hart, has also called on the Government to do more to support local artists, performers, writers and musicians through the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said: “Earlier this week we heard the welcome announcement of £1.57 billion going towards this sector to support the crown jewels in our island’s cultural and creative quarters, which is welcome.

“However, it is all well and good saving our historic theatres and venues, and this is welcome, but if we don’t support the very people we visit these places to hear from, to be inspired by then what’s the point?

“Our arts, music, culture and much more besides is the very heart of this country that we must protect and ensure is there for all of us when we get through this pandemic.

“That is why I am asking the Government, on the back of the welcome announcement earlier this week, to now support our freelancers and give them the help the help they deserve in their hour of need.

“We are all going to want to tap our feet to the beat again, lift our hearts and souls by the discourse of playwriters and actors, and our imaginations fired up by artists and musicians once more.

“Let’s not save the buildings for them to stand empty when we most need them after this pandemic.

“Let’s take inspiration from the American experience of the 1930s and put rocket boosters under the work of our local independent freelancers, so that when we emerge from this crisis, we can emerge into a new economy where creativity, endeavour and imagination play a central role.”

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