Scotland’s crisis-hit culture sector has been thrown a £10 million lifeline.
The Scottish Government announced a support package for performing arts venues on Friday, after it emerged nearly 7,000 industry jobs were under threat.
The Courier revealed last month details of a Creative Industries Federation study, that showed how the country was facing a “cultural catastrophe” that could blast a £1.7 billion hole in the economy.
The report came as redundancy talks got under way at Horsecross Arts – the group in charge of Perth’s theatre and concert hall – and Pitlochry Festival Theatre.
Created as part of the government’s £185m business support pot, the new fund will help venues that cannot yet reopen to audiences.
Announcing the scheme, culture secretary Fiona Hyslop paid tribute to venues that had to close at the start of lockdown, with a near complete loss of income.
“There is no doubt that in doing so they saved lives, and for that I am extremely grateful,” she said.
“As we navigate our way through the pandemic, we know physical distancing is vital to ensuring that we do not see a second wave of infections, but we recognise the difficulties this presents for those in performing arts.
“This dedicated fund will be a vital lifeline to help performing arts venues continue to weather the storm. We are also actively considering support for grassroots music venues.”
Iain Munro, chief executive of Creative Scotland said the new fund was “a critical injection of cash” to help meet the immediate needs of venues across Scotland.
Horsecross Arts chief executive Nick Williams welcomed the announcement. “As a sector, we’ve been working hard to lobby the Scottish Government for financial support to help us through this crisis,” he said. “We look forward to hearing further details about the fund as they emerge.”
Joint CEO of Dundee Rep Liam Sinclair, who also co-chairs the Federation of Scottish Theatres, added: ‘We know that pressure on public budgets is huge and we profoundly appreciate Scottish Government’s recognition of the importance of live performing arts in people’s lives.
“Our members make a difference here in Scotland and around the world and this investment is an essential element in helping us all to build back better.”
In early June, Pitlochry Festival Theatre announced it would be forced to make 42 of its 98 staff redundant.
Artistic director Elizabeth Newman said if no action was taken now, the theatre would run out of cash by November.
Weeks later, Horsecross Arts revealed that it could be forced to axe around 120 staff.
Mr Williams also said challenges facing the industry were not all money related. He said physical distancing measure would slash capacity at Perth Theatre by two-thirds, making shows financially unviable.