£10M for Theatre

Jul 3 2020 | By More

Scotgov throws “lifeline” of £10M new money to theatre

The Scottish government has created a targeted £10M Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund for theatres adversely effected by Covid-19, which will be administered by Creative Scotland.

The fund is hoped to remove the threat of insolvency for theatres and arts venues; stop their staff being made redundant and help them provide support to the freelancers they work with.

Fiona Hyslop announces £10M lifeline for theatres. Screen-grab by Thom Dibdin.

It will provide money to both Creative Scotland’s existing regularly funded organisations, such as the Lyceum and Traverse, but also to venues with non-RFO status.

The fund was announced by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop during the First Minister’s press briefing on Friday 3 July 2020, adding real money to her vocal support for culture the previous week.

Hyslop was also clear that £10M is not enough, although she described the fund as a “vital lifeline” to help performing arts venues to continue to weather the storm.

She said: “we don’t have the same powers as the UK Government to borrow billions to ensure that there is fiscal stimulus for the economy or indeed to support key sectors.”


In a clear message to her opposite number at Westminster, Oliver Dowden, she continued: “I think that there is a real responsibility now, if the UK Government really cares about culture and creativity, that they step up to the mark and help provide support.”

She promised that if it did then the Scottish government would distribute its share of the Barnett Consequentials to “help this vital part of our society but also our economy”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We know this will not solve every problem facing our culture sector, and that more support is needed.

“But I hope this £10m will be a lifeline for theatres – and also send a signal of how important we believe arts and culture are, not just to our economy, but to our wellbeing too.”

The announcement has had strong support from the Federation of Scottish Theatre, the performing arts industry body, and Bectu, the union for theatre workers. Both have been actively lobbying the Scottish government on behalf of their members.

next steps

Jude Henderson, director of the FST said: “Today’s important announcement represents a fraction of the amount of the income lost to the sector this year and we look forward to working closely with Scottish Government and Creative Scotland on the next steps and phasing of this funding.”

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “Our primary concern will be that this money is used to lift the threat of redundancy that Bectu members across Scotland are facing.

“The fact that the Scottish government has been able to find this money demonstrates how far behind the culture secretary in Westminster, Oliver Dowden, is in dealing with this crisis. The Scottish government has reacted quickly and recognised the importance theatre and performance plays to their economy.”

Iain Munro, chief executive of Creative Scotland which will administer the fund, welcomed what he described as a “critical injection of cash to help meet the immediate needs of Performing Arts venues in Scotland which have been so badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

It is “significant, welcome and demonstrates the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to culture” he said, while recognising the challenges facing organisations and individuals working across the wider cultural sector.

He promised: “We will therefore continue to work closely with both the Scottish Government and other partners to explore every possible avenue for further support.”


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