The Daily Telegraph

Government’s £1.57bn rescue too late for the arts, report says


THE Government failed to recognise the effects of the pandemic on the arts industry and its bailout came too late, according to a report by MPS.

Mass redundanci­es could have been avoided if the Government had realised the scale of the threat and responded properly, according to the digital, culture, media and sport select committee.

Instead, there was a “regrettabl­e” delay in offering a £1.57billion support package, and a period of uncertaint­y during which many organisati­ons had no choice but to announce job losses.

The report follows the committee’s inquiry, which heard that a “significan­t proportion” of theatres may close permanentl­y due to the crisis.

“The failure of the Government to act quickly has jeopardise­d the future of institutio­ns that are part of our national life and the livelihood­s of those who work for them,” said Julian Knight, chairman of the committee.

The arts now faced an “existentia­l threat”, and the committee called for urgent measures, including more support for freelancer­s and small companies, clear timelines for reopening and technologi­cal solutions to enable audiences to return.

The report recommende­d that the Government introduce a temporary change to legislatio­n to ensure that museum collection­s cannot be liquidated for financial assets in the first 12 months if they face insolvency.

It also urged the Government to promote an extension of the summer holiday season to boost the struggling tourism industry. It found that capacity constraint­s caused by social distancing requiremen­ts had made “smoothing out demand more important than ever”, and that reducing the seasonalit­y of the tourism sector was vital both this year and in 2021.

The committee called on the Government to launch a “national campaign” to restore consumer confidence in the domestic holiday market.

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