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Getting Around Theatreland

The theatre industry reacts to £1.57 billion investment from the UK Government

First Published 6 July 2020, Last Updated 7 July 2020

On Sunday 5 July, the Government announced a rescue package of £1.57 billion to help the arts, culture and heritage industries survive the impact of Covid-19.

After months of working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the HM Treasury, the theatre and performing arts sector is hugely thankful to the government for their support.

Since the announcement, we have seen an outpouring of relief and gratitude from across the industry. We’ve gathered reactions from industry figures below and will continue to update this page as further announcements are made over the coming days.


Julian Bird, Chief Executive, Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre

“The government’s announcement of a £1.57bn package of support for the arts, culture and heritage sector in the UK is hugely welcomed – for the theatre and performing arts sector, we have worked intensively with DCMS and HMT to seek this clear commitment to our world-leading industry and we thank them.

“Venues, producers and the huge workforce in the theatre sector look forward to clarity of how these funds will be allocated and invested, so that artists and organisations can get back to work as soon as possible. Our industry’s united ambition is to be able to play its vital role in the nation’s economic and social recovery and this investment will allow us to do so.”


Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer, Birmingham Hippodrome

“We are completely overjoyed by the news this evening that £1.57 billion will be invested by the UK Government to protect our world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions during this time of crisis. This is welcomed news as we were at the point where, without intervention, we would have seen 70% of theatres across the UK close.

“This support will mean that more venues, jobs and companies can survive, and there will be an industry to return to when we can do safely. Theatres play an important civic role in our society, bringing communities together and helping regional economies thrive.

“We still have a lot of work to do, and while we wait for further details on how this may directly benefit Birmingham Hippodrome, we are now able to turn our focus to rebuilding what we have lost and planning for the future.”


Almeida Theatre

“Yesterday the UK government announced an investment plan to protect the UK’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage sectors.

“This is a huge show of support for our sector and we are grateful to Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Treasury for investing in us.

“Thank you to all our staff, freelancers, supporters and the whole theatre community who lobbied hard over the last few months to make our case heard.

“We look forward to working with the DCMS on the details of how this investment will be distributed and how it can quickly reach those most in need.

“This is a big step forward and we hope it will be the lifeline we and many other companies, artists and freelancers need. There is a long road ahead and still many challenges to overcome in the coming months as we move to reopen our doors. But this has given us huge hope for the future.”

The Almeida Theatre (Photo: Philip Vile)The Almeida Theatre (Photo: Philip Vile)


Curve Leicester Artistic Director, Nikolai Foster, and Chief Executive, Chris Stafford

“We welcome this news of urgent investment to protect our world-famous arts and cultural industries. We know theatres play a vital role in our communities and it makes good business sense to invest in our sector, which brings millions of pounds into our local economies. Thank you to DCMS and HM Treasury for this essential support for our industry.

“We look forward to hearing in more detail how these packages will be implemented, reopening dates for performances and specifically how these grants and loans will safeguard the future of the Curve and the theatre industry itself.”


Cameron Mackintosh

“The news that the government has heard the pleas of the theatre and Arts community and they have responded with this very  generous grant to help us survive is most welcome.  As well as finding out how commercial theatre venues, producers and our freelance artists and technicians can access this vital support it is now critical that we are given immediate guidance when social distancing will be phased out so we can make firm plans to reopen as soon as practical.  All of us in the theatre long to declare ‘Curtain up, Light the Lights, We have nothing to hit but the heights.”


Executive Director Kathy Bourne and Artistic Director Daniel Evans, Chichester Festival Theatre

“We greatly welcome the significant investment made by the Government in supporting the arts at this critical time. Thank you to the DCMS and all those who have worked tirelessly to demonstrate the vital role that culture plays in our lives.

“We now look forward to the future as we work with our colleagues across the industry to ensure we can reopen our theatre as soon as it is safe to do so and welcome audiences back to Chichester Festival Theatre.”


Alex Beard, Chief Executive, The Royal Opera House 


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Nicholas Hytner, Co-director, London Theatre Company

“This is a much better plan than anyone expected and it’s a big achievement for DCMS. Obviously there’s a lot of work to done and questions to be asked about how quickly these funds can be distributed, how they reach the artists who need support, and how soon we can connect with the audiences we’re so desperate to serve. But I warmly welcome the way Rishi Sunak and Oliver Dowden have responded to the tenacious and detailed lobbying of the entire arts sector.”


Artistic Director Michael Longhurst and Executive Director Henny Finch – Donmar Warehouse

The Donmar Warehouse welcomes the announcement of the £1.57 billion support package from the government for arts and culture. We would like to thank the treasury, Oliver Dowden and everyone who has worked tirelessly to achieve this support, and we hope it will ensure the UK’s vibrant theatre ecology can survive until we are all able to open our doors to audiences for live theatre again. We look forward to understanding the details of the support package, and in particular how it can support the thousands of brilliant freelancers who make up the wider cultural workforce. We know how essential the arts will be in bringing people back together in theatres, music venues, museums, village halls, schools and community spaces after their period of isolation, and we can’t wait to start this crucial work again soon.

The Donmar Warehouse, LondonThe Donmar Warehouse, London

Sonia Friedman

“I’m deeply relieved and immensely grateful that the Government has heard the urgent warnings from across the cultural sector, and responded with this significant rescue package that it so desperately needed. This historic fiscal support recognises that the arts are not an added extra, but a national necessity that enrich all our lives in countless ways. We take them for granted at our peril.”


Artistic Director Nadia Fall and Executive Director Eleanor Lang, Theatre Royal Stratford East

“After much anticipation and anguish the welcome news of a government bailout will be a much needed lifeline for our industry at such a precarious time. There will of course be an application process for theatres to gain access to the financial support, speed and fair distribution will be key to ensure our survival. We at Theatre Royal Stratford East are committed to doing our utmost in order for our staff, our freelance collaborators, (who make up a significant part of our work force), and our beautiful building get through the closure and thrive beyond it. We cherish the well wishes and support from our loyal audiences, and generous donors and cannot wait to be back.”

Theatre Royal Stratford East


Artistic Director Robert Hastie and Executive Director Dan Bates, Sheffield Theatres

“We are so thankful to hear about the government’s £1.57bn package of support for the arts, culture and heritage sector.  The closure of Sheffield Theatres since March and the cancellation of our planned programme of work has had an enormous impact on our business, our staff and our audiences. We’re grateful to DCMS, the treasury and the Prime Minister for hearing us and offering this unprecedented investment which will support our theatres and freelancers to survive and thrive. We’d also like to thank everyone across the industry who has campaigned and helped to achieve this outcome. We know there is more detail to understand and we must wait for further guidelines. In the meantime, we look forward to learning more about the government’s funding package and how this can support us to look to the future and return to creating bold and brilliant work for our stages when it is safe to do so.”


Rufus Norris and Lisa Burger, Joint Chief Executives, National Theatre


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We’re so pleased that the Government has announced vital support for the culture sector.

Posted by National Theatre on Sunday, July 5, 2020


Jon Morgan, director of The Theatres Trust

“Theatres Trust welcomes the announcement of £1.57bn additional support for the arts and cultural sectors, and the recognition of the importance of these sectors to the UK economy and national life. We will need to know more detail of how this money will be allocated across the different areas to fully assess its benefit – we would hope that a significant proportion will be reserved for the performing arts. Theatres have been amongst the hardest hit industries by the pandemic and are still at risk as they are unable to operate viably while social distancing is in place.

 It remains to be seen whether this amount will be sufficient to replace the furlough scheme, as it begins to taper from August and ends in October, at a time when we still do not have timescales for theatres reopening.

 We are pleased to see investment in capital projects included in this announcement. Our research has shown that there are more than 100 theatre capital projects worth almost £800m that have been stalled by the pandemic by anywhere between 3 and 18 months at a cost of upwards of £66m.”


Indhu Rubasingham, Artistic Director, Kiln Theatre

“This is such welcome news from the Government, at last a glimpse of hope for a sector brought to its knees. We now have an excellent opportunity, to not only move to recovery, but also to reset, challenge and change to make sure we are better, bolder and revitalised as we look after every moving part that constitutes our complex and deeply inter-dependent eco-system.”


Lyric Hammersmith Theatre Artistic Director, Rachel O’Riordan and Executive Director, Sian Alexander

“We greatly welcome the announcement from the government of their support package and investment in the theatre sector at this incredibly challenging time. We are grateful to the DCMS, Treasury, the Prime Minister and everyone who has worked together to demonstrate the essential role that the arts play economically and socially in our communities.

“This is a vital first step in the recovery of our world-leading sector and we look forward to receiving the full details of this support package. There is much more for us to do, we are ready and eager to work with the government, and everyone who makes up our incredible industry to ensure we can all return to work and take the next steps in welcoming back our community to our theatre.”

The Lyric Hammersmith


Tom Morris, Artistic Director, Bristol Old Vic

“We are delighted by the scale and range of last night’s announcement. Artists, economists, producers and audience members have powerfully argued that the national theatre infrastructure would be impossible to rebuild if we were to let it collapse. Government has heard that call and invested.

“There’s much to find out about how the funds will be applied but this investment feels like a decisive vote of confidence by Rishi Sunak and Oliver Dowden in the enormous contribution that the arts and culture can make to our social, educational, creative and economic recovery from the COVID19 disaster. It can’t save every organisation or support every artist, but we unreservedly welcome and applaud it.

“Like others across the sector, we look forward to working closely with ACE and DCMS to ensure that the funds can be released quickly enough to minimise the damage of cuts being made to many organisations, and be used speedily to employ the freelance artists who have been so badly hit by the pandemic.

“We need to make sure that money reaches freelance artists fast, not only through the hardship funds announced from Netflix and others, but through meaningful employment too.”


Tamara Harvey, Artistic Director, Theatr Clwyd

“This is an essential and welcome commitment to our world leading cultural landscape, and hugely important that it’s been extended to Wales and the other devolved nations. Every week of the pandemic, we’ve held online workshops in dance, music and theatre with over 1,000 people in our community. We’re a centre for blood donations, we’ve worked with social services to distribute food, creative packages and rainbow boxes of toys to vulnerable children, we’ve turned on the lights in our theatre for a local boy can continue his ballet training, so he can take up his place at the Royal Ballet in September.

“Theatres across the country have done this – and more – without knowing if any of our buildings or our artists will survive the winter because we fundamentally believe in the power of the arts to change lives – and because we passionately believe that we are here to serve and inspire the people around us. This £1.57 billion support package comes tragically too late for some but is a clear recognition of the vital economic contribution that the arts, culture and heritage make to our nation. Once we have detail on the what, where and how of these funds, hopefully we can start planning how we bring our stages back to life whilst continuing to serve our communities as we have been doing throughout this pandemic.”


Julia Fawcett, Chief Executive, The Lowry

“The announcement of £1.57 billion of emergency investment in the UK’s culture sector is welcome news, but we are fast running out of time.

“This lifeline will come too late for some organisations who have already been forced to close their doors for good or made valued employees redundant.

“While we await precise details of the funding mechanisms, I would remind Government that the priority now must be to get these much-needed funds to the organisations most at risk – and fast.

“In doing so, they can help save programmes of work and thousands of jobs across our sector that will otherwise fall victim to COVID.”

The Lowry


RSC Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon, and Artistic Director, Gregory Doran

“We are very pleased and relieved to hear news of the government’s support package and investment in the arts and culture sector during this critical time. Thank you to the DCMS, HM Treasury and the many people in the sector who have worked together to demonstrate the critical role the arts play in our economic wellbeing and public life. We hope this investment will provide meaningful support for the whole sector: for the skilled workforce who create world-class theatre, and for theatres and companies at every scale throughout the UK. We are all ready to be part of a powerful civic, emotional and economic recovery for the country, and will be invaluable contributors to the UK’s ability to re-emerge from the pandemic locally, nationally and on a world stage.

“We look forward to receiving the detail of the support package when we will see in full how this will help the survival of the sector, and support our next steps to welcoming audiences back to live theatre.”


Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England

“We greatly welcome this very significant investment by the government in the future of arts and culture in this country and look forward to working with them on next steps. I know our amazing artists and creative organisations will repay the faith that the government has shown by demonstrating the range of their creativity, by serving their communities and by helping the nation recover as we emerge from the pandemic.”


Matthew Bourne, Artistic Director, New Adventures

“Very welcome news this morning from Oliver Dowden detailing a vital lifeline for the arts and culture sector. Thank you to everyone who has lobbied so hard to secure this support. As an organisation that tours and works across the country we hope that this funding will reach those who need it before we see any further losses in an industry that provides so much for so many. Not only onstage, but in the many communities where creativity and culture enrich all our lives. Our warmest thoughts go out to our friends and partners across the country.”


David Hutchinson, Chief Executive Officer, Selladoor Worldwide

“We hugely welcome the Government’s announcement of a £1.57 billion package of support for the arts and culture last night. This funding promises to offer our sector a vital lifeline as we continue to plan survival through COVID-19. The theatre sector has been decimated since closure in March, and what is clear is that we won’t be able to open our doors anytime soon as running a commercially viable theatre model with social distancing just isn’t possible. What the Government have done today is to strongly acknowledge the value of the arts – both economic and cultural – and that is an incredibly positive endorsement for all in the theatre sector who have suffered many months of adversity during one of the biggest crises to hit the industry in the last century.”


Caroline Norbury, Chief Executive Officer, Creative Industries Federation and Creative England

“This unprecedented £1.57 billion investment is a seismic step forward. Our creative industries are teetering on the brink of cultural collapse – and this could be the game changer we need.

“The voice of the creative sector has been heard loud and clear by the government and we warmly welcome their response. This investment acknowledges the mission critical role that the UK’s creative industries will play in recovery and growth in all parts of the country.

“However while this support will rescue many, so much has changed during the pandemic; there won’t necessarily be an easy return to normal. It is particularly heartening to see the reference to supporting freelancers, who are a phenomenally important part of the creative industries ecosystem.

“But there will be so much more to do to ensure that our world-beating creative sector can thrive once more and as we move forwards through the challenging days and months ahead it will be crucial that the creative industries work together to reimagine all of our futures.

“I’m confident the creative industries will play a vital role in powering the UK out of the forthcoming economic crisis and this investment will help the creative and cultural sector to rise to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”


Nickie Aiken, MP, Westminster and Cities of London

“COVID has thrown our theatres, arts and cultural venues into a perilous position and 70 per cent were expected to run out of cash by the end of the year. If these venues collapse, so do the local pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants that rely on them. For every pound spent at the theatre, a further £5 is spent in the local economy. I wrote a recovery plan with industry leaders, I took it to ministers, and at the heart of it was the need for a serious and temporary financial injection. I’m delighted that Oliver Dowden and his team have listened and acted urgently, £1.5 billion will keep the industry going for an entire year, across the whole of the UK, while it works out how to bring people into buildings safely.

“We are world renowned for our arts, theatres and culture – and they will be vital in helping us feel better as we recover from this difficult time. This amount will benefit our economy, our society, our health and our international standing.”




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