New updates in our theatre industry

Posted by Natasha Stone on

Industry leaders are fighting back against the government over the unfair treatment the arts has received during the pandemic. Yesterday Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sonia Friedman, Cameron Mackintosh, Craig Hassall and Michael Harrison have taken legal action against the British Government, forcing it to publish records from their Events Research Programme.

We've broken down the most important updates regarding our collective industry leaders legal action against the government, to make it as easy as possible to understand what's happening.

What is the ‘Events Research Programme’?

You may have heard the term 'ERP' used recently, but we had no idea what this was, so thought we'd break it down! The ‘ERP’ is a research programme that tested live events continuing at full capacity. The events trialled have been a huge success (The BRIT awards and two outdoor festivals), “showing that with proper precautions in place, live events at full capacity can go ahead safely”.

The argument is that despite these positive results, theatre and the arts have still been placed under tight restrictions post June 21st whilst other industries (hospitality, retails etc) that have not undergone such rigorous trials, have been able to operate.

What is the government being accused of?

The government is being accused of unfair treatment of the arts during the Covid 19 pandemic. Many large sporting events have been allowed to go ahead under certain constraints and many arts industry leaders believe the government are ‘cherry picking’ the events they want to go ahead rather than treating all events equally. That is why the publishing of the ERP results is so important, because it will highlight its findings and show whether the government has given preferential treatment to more high-profile events opening.

Who are the industry leaders fighting for us?

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sonia Freidman, Michael Harrison, Craig Hassall and Cameron Mackintosh are among top theatre industry leaders that have filed legal action against the British government.

Why is it so important that these industry leaders fight for us?

The government are yet to provide any insurance policies for arts organisations looking to re-open, which means it is impossible to properly plan a mass reopening for theatres, live events and other arts organisations. Re-opening without insurance policies in place means that if the government change the goal posts on restrictions and re-openings theatre, live events companies and art organisations risk losing even more revenue.

The wider impact this could have?

With the government seeing the arts as ‘low priority’, it means that the arts will continue to be a privilege and something for those that can afford to experience it, rather than a joy for all. Regardless of the economic benefits the arts brings (34m visitors, £1.28bn in ticket sales and £127m in VAT for the treasury in 2018), the arts is vital to our cultural and social development as individuals.

What happens next?

Those suing the government have requested the court to review this as an ‘urgent matter’ meaning that a hearing should take place soon. Following that, if the court are in favour of the theatre leader’s requests, then the findings of the report could be handed over allowing for the people involved in the trial to see their findings and to see once and for all if the arts have been disregarded by our government.

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