The Scottish government has announced a £10 million dedicated fund for performing arts venues, staff and freelancers, as it calls for more support on a UK level.
Called the Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund, it will be administered by Creative Scotland and made available to both its regularly funded organisations and to non-RFOs.
The new support is aimed at helping venues remove the threat of insolvency but will also be expected to help protect key staff from redundancy and provide employment for freelance artists and creative practitioners.
Speaking during the first minister’s press briefing on July 3, Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said that theatres and performing arts venues, and the freelancers who work with them, were an essential part of the fabric of Scotland’s culture and communities.
She said: “We reacted quickly to help culture and the creative industries from the earliest days of this pandemic, including through the £120 million Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, which is unique to Scotland. This new fund is the next step."
Acknowledging the responsible role that theatres have played in the fight against Covid-19, she said: "Our performing arts venues effectively had to close overnight, with an almost complete loss of income. There is no doubt that in doing so they saved lives, and for that I am extremely grateful."
However, she said she recognised £10 million was not enough and called on the UK government to use its borrowing powers to help provide more support.
The announcement has had initial support from theatre and staff organisations.
Rhona Matheson, co-chair of the Federation of Scottish Theatre, said: "We are delighted by the scale of this investment in the future of theatre and dance in Scotland.
"The Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund will benefit our sector ecosystem, helping to secure jobs and livelihoods wherever possible all over the country."
FST director Jude Henderson also welcomed the initiative. saying: "Today’s important announcement represents a fraction of the amount of the income lost to the sector this year and we look forward to working closely with the Scottish government and Creative Scotland on the next steps and phasing of this funding."
Union BECTU also welcomed the support, with head Philippa Childs claiming the Scottish government’s support “demonstrates how far behind the culture secretary in Westminster, Oliver Dowden, is in dealing with this crisis”.
“The Scottish government has reacted quickly and recognised the importance theatre and performance plays to their economy,” she added.
Hyslop said in her statement that the Scottish government would continue to urge the UK government to use fiscal levers, such as its borrowing powers, to support the creative industries with major investment.
She added: "If the UK government really cares about culture and creativity, there is a real responsibility now [for it to] step up to the mark and help provide support. From that we will certainly be able to distribute our share and help this vital part of our society, but also our economy."
Creative Scotland is due to publish full details of how it will administer the fund shortly.