The Leader of Basildon Council says theatres are the "beating heart" of any town or city and has written to the government calling for an emergency support package for the industry.

Councillor Gavin Callaghan has written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP.

In the letter Cllr Callaghan welcomes the news that, if Covid secure, the government will shortly allow some leisure and entertainment establishments to reopen but raised concerns about theatres and the arts in general, which like many industries have been badly hit by the lockdown.

Cllr Callaghan said: "Whilst such safety measures were entirely understandable during a global pandemic, if the government believes that the infection rate is low enough to allow reopening then it ought to take account of the pressures facing theatres and provide support accordingly.

"Cultural venues are the beating heart of any town or city and are some of the main drivers of the economy. There are many jobs at risk in the cultural sector but it, in turn, supports a large number of other jobs, and livelihoods, in the wider economy, such as in hotels, bars, shops, restaurants, local taxis and more."

Cllr Callaghan also outlined how theatres cannot function without audiences, relying heavily on ticket sales, and are less able to adapt like the food and drink hospitality industry.

The letter goes on to urge the government to bring forward an emergency support package for the theatre industry.

Cllr Callaghan added: "Basildon Council is fully committed to our theatre and our town centre masterplan makes provision for a new facility, the Towngate Theatre. We cannot wait for a budget in the Autumn. We need to see support for arts and the theatres start urgently and continue over the summer so that vital cultural assets can be saved.

"The cultural and creative sector has a huge positive impact on society, across all age groups, on health, wellbeing, and education. Support for this vital sector in these difficult times is essential."


Published on Wednesday 24 June 2020