Conservative peer Stephen Gilbert has written to the government asking how it plans to protect the creative industries amid the ongoing heath crisis, warning that many theatres face an “existential threat” due to closures.
Gilbert wrote the letter on behalf of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Select Committee, of which he is chair.
Since the letter was sent yesterday (March 17) the government has announced some additional support measures for theatres, including additional grants and loans and the abolition of business rates for venues of all sizes.
However, there has been widespread criticism that there is not enough government support for freelances in the creative industries.
The letter from Gilbert said: “We understand the situation is complex and the issues facing the government are profoundly challenging.
“However we are also deeply concerned about the economic impact the guidance [for theatres to close] will have on the creative industries if steps are not taken to mitigate it.
“Many venues, including theatres, cinemas, music venues and art galleries could face an existential threat.”
The letter also highlighted concerns around whether theatres will be able to claim insurance due to the government not enforcing closures. Since the publication of the letter, the government has said that for businesses which have an insurance policy covering pandemics, the government advice will be “sufficient” to claim compensation.
Gilbert added: “The centrality of the creative industries to the UK’s economic future has been increasingly clear to us over the course of our recent enquiries.
“We hope that the government will take their interests into careful consideration while making the difficult decisions which lie ahead.”