Hope rises at the CFT but be­ware the devil in the de­tail

West Sussex County Times - - The Guide - Phil He­witt

Chich­ester Fes­ti­val The­atre artis­tic di­rec­tor Daniel Evans says ‘the hopeome­ter has shot up’ af­ter the an­nounce­ment of the gov­ern­ment’s emer­gency fund­ing for the arts.

Daniel stresses the need for cau­tion: and he points out that the full de­tails have not yet emerged. But the news comes as a huge boost to a be­lea­guered sec­tor which was inch­ing to­wards mass re­dun­dan­cies and clo­sures.

At the week­end, the gov­ern­ment un­veiled a £1.57bil­lion sup­port pack­age to help pro­tect the fu­ture of UK the­atres, gal­leries, mu­se­ums and other cul­tural venues. Cul­ture Sec­re­tary Oliver Dow­den said the aim was to pre­serve the ‘crown jewels’ in the UK’s arts sec­tor as well as local venues.

“It is def­i­nitely heart­en­ing,” Daniel said. “The devil is in the de­tail, but def­i­nitely when this was an­nounced there was a huge mix­ture of re­lief. Time was go­ing by, and def­i­nitely the jeop­ardy was in­creas­ing, so there is def­i­nitely a lot of grat­i­tude in the in­dus­try to­day.

“A fort­night ago there were mur­mur­ings that some­thing was coming and then noth­ing was hap­pen­ing. And then there was an ar­ti­cle in The Sun­day Times say­ing a lot of arts or­gan­i­sa­tions are go­ing to have to be moth­balled, so in the morn­ing there was a real sense of de­pres­sion… and then in the evening a real sense of ela­tion. But there is def­i­nitely a de­gree of cau­tion. The de­tail re­mains to work worked out. There are go­ing to be a se­ries of bod­ies set up to dis­sem­i­nate the money, and how soon it will hap­pen is un­known. But it is the cru­cial ques­tion be­cause speed re­ally is of the essence. Some of my col­leagues around the coun­try are in or­gan­i­sa­tions where the jeop­ardy is al­ready re­ally high. They re­ally need the money ur­gently. We are not yet in that po­si­tion at the CFT be­cause of our model and be­cause of good house­keep­ing. But there will come a time when we get to that place, and there is still a body that needs to be formed (for the dis­tri­bu­tion of the money). It has got to hap­pen very quickly.”

Daniel said the sheer di­ver­sity of the in­dus­try was cer­tainly a com­pli­cat­ing fac­tor: you have got ev­ery­thing from the small in­de­pen­dent venues to the sub­sidised venues: “And even within those sub­sidised venues, there is a huge level of di­ver­sity. At the CFT 12 per cent comes from the gov­ern­ment while for others it is more like 40 per cent.

“So I un­der­stand how com­plex it all is. But it needs to hap­pen fast. I am re­ally hop­ing that within a week some de­ci­sions will start to be rolled out. But I know from some of my col­leagues up and down the coun­try that time is of the essence. What we are def­i­nitely need­ing is a mean­ing­ful timetable. With­out dates it is mean­ing­less – though I do un­der­stand the pub­lic health com­plex­ity of our in­dus­try.

“But we are des­per­ate to open again and we feel we can make our the­atre safe to re­open and we know from a lot of our con­tacts that peo­ple are re­ally keen to come back.”

In the mean­time, Daniel la­bels it ‘be­wil­der­ing’ that peo­ple can sit tightly packed for hours in a sealed con­tainer in the sky: “Planes are surely like Petri dishes in the sky while we know since our re­newal that we have got great ven­ti­la­tion in our the­atre that we can re­ally con­trol. “But you are also look­ing at what was hap­pen­ing with the scenes from Soho on Satur­day night, peo­ple re­ally up close and shout­ing and laugh­ing and breath­ing all over each other… And also you see the Prime Min­is­ter and the Chan­cel­lor en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple. We do need to start open­ing up the econ­omy, but when you see that kind of ac­tiv­ity be­ing en­cour­aged, you think why are th­ese other sec­tors get­ting pref­er­en­tial treat­ment.” The false think­ing is based on a mis­taken view of who goes to the the­atre: it is not just older peo­ple: “There is this car­i­ca­ture that we just play to a cer­tain type of per­son, and we don’t.”

Chich­ester Fes­ti­val The­atre artis­tic di­rec­tor Daniel Evans

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.