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DCMS Committee warns Government over Covid-19 threat to Shakespeare's Globe theatre

18 May 2020

MPs have given a stark warning to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, about the risk of insolvency and closure facing Shakespeare's Globe—just one of a number of cultural institutions in jeopardy as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

In written evidence published today, the theatre says the current closure has had a devastating impact on its finances and presents the greatest threat to its future since opening in 1997. It is one of a number of submissions from a range of individuals and organisations across the country about the threat posed to the UK's cultural landscape and workforce. The Theatres Trust anticipates the closure of a significant proportion of theatres and a lasting impact on the UK's position as a world leader in the sector.

Chair's comments

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:

"Shakespeare's Globe is a world-renowned institution and not only part of our national identity, but a leading example of the major contribution the arts make to our economy. For this national treasure to succumb to Covid-19 would be a tragedy.

Like many theatres and venues across the country, it faces a struggle for survival and an uncertain future—the lifting of lockdown will not automatically mean 'business as usual' for the creative industries.

The Government must step up now and find more funding to shore up our cultural landscape and safeguard our rich past while giving hope to those whose livelihoods depend upon it."

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport the Committee calls on the Government to provide support for the creative industries, individuals and institutions, to go beyond the emergency funding that has been announced and to be prepared to meet long-term needs.

Evidence from The Minack Theatre, an open-air venue on the Cornish coast, said lockdown coincided with its lowest point in the financial year, hitting an expected rise in visitor numbers for the new season. Beyond lockdown, the Theatre Royal Plymouth noted that social distancing with a limit on seating capacity would prove not to be financially viable for larger scale venues relying on higher attendance figures to cover costs.

Further information

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