Britain to put nearly $2.8 billion into coronavirus-hit arts sector to help survival

Theatres, opera houses and ballet companies in Britain have been left without a live audience for months.
Theatres, opera houses and ballet companies in Britain have been left without a live audience for months.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain will invest nearly US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) in cultural institutions and the arts to help a sector that has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday (July 5).

Theatres, opera houses and ballet companies have been left without a live audience for months.

Though English museums and cinemas can reopen with strict social distancing in the latest easing of lockdown which began on Saturday, guidelines still dictate no live performances at theatres or concert halls.

That has created an existential crisis for much of the sector, which has been vocal in calling on the government for support.

"This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down," Mr Johnson said in a statement.

The government said the £1.57 billion (S$2.8 billion) investment was the biggest ever in Britain's culture sector.

It said that Britain's museums, art galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues would be protected through emergency grants and loans.

The government will consult with figures from Arts Council England, the British Film Institute and other specialist bodies on awarding grants, while it said repayable finance would be issued on affordable terms.