‘Put arts centres at heart of Covid recovery’

A network of 100 arts centres across the UK has put together proposals for local and regional arts centres to be at the heart of a culture revival after the Covid lockdown.

Future Arts Centres (FAC) https://futureartscentres.org.uk have sent the proposals to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, aiming for inclusion in the Chancellor’s financial statement expected later in July. They are calling for:

  • The Theatre Tax Relief scheme to be expanding its definitions, which will allow arts centres and community venues to invest in new programming.
  • A centralised fund for creative industries apprenticeships and local arts centres and venues
  • A National Arts Project stimulus package that will allow community arts centres to employ freelance artists to work in schools, care homes and other settings.

“Theatre Tax Relief could make all the difference, not just for arts centres and other organisations, but for the communities they serve” said Annabel Turpin, co-chair of Future Arts Centres and CEO of ARC in Stockton-on-Tees. “With reduced financial risk arts centres will be able to open within weeks, with adaptable spaces that can be used for a huge range of different artistic and cultural activities. We are ideally positioned to hit the ground running and give opportunities for artists and creators to get to work and create social, cultural and economic stimulus for our communities.”

She said the change could be made immediately, using an existing mechanism to inject stimulus into Britain’s crucial cultural sector.

Recent figures show that every pound invested in creative industries apprenticeships and training can generate up to £27 for the UK economy, but without a clear plan to stimulate the sector in rural areas, towns and cities the momentum of the culture sector, stalled by Covid-19, could be lost forever. 

FAC’s other co-chair is Gavin Barlow, CEO and artistic director The Albany in Deptford. “If our communities are to recover from Covid-19, we will need to look at every available opportunity to expand training and apprenticeships” he said. “Our arts centres have provided paths to employment for young people up and down the country, and we have programmes that are ready to scale up.

“Putting culture at the heart of local recovery makes sense; socially and financially. Our arts centres and cultural venues are uniquely placed to respond to the needs of their communities. We’re urging the Chancellor to use existing networks and mechanisms to help kickstart our local communities, and secure the next generation of talent for Britain’s vital sector.”

Image shows last year’s Festival of Light and Colour at the ARC, Stockton-on-Tees

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