Arts organisations in Wales are losing an estimated £1.4 million a week, leaving the sector "on its knees", the chief executive of the country’s arts council has said.
Nick Capaldi said the venues and companies supported by the Arts Council of Wales are rapidly losing significant sums in earned income while the industry is at a standstill, with major organisations like the Wales Millennium Centre heading towards an annual loss of £20 million.
Speaking to the Welsh government’s culture committee, Capaldi said the arts’ pivot away from a reliance on public funding had left organisations such as WMC and Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff in particularly challenging circumstances when their earned income "dried up over night".
In order to help the sector in the short term, the Arts Council is providing emergency relief of £7.5 million, including pots of funding worth £2 million for individuals as well as £5.5 million for organisations.
However, Capaldi said there is a risk of casualties in the industry if the UK government’s furlough scheme stops too early.
He said the scheme had been "a real life saver" during the pandemic so far, but said the biggest challenges lay further ahead as the arts are likely to be among the last sectors to return to business.
"[Whether] there will be an extension beyond October is really important, because most of the organisations, particularly those in the performing arts, are not imagining they will be back in serious business much before Easter next year," he said.
Capaldi added: "We are under no illusions about the scale of those difficulties... This very important aspect of Welsh economic and cultural life is on its knees and is going to be the last out of lockdown, and will need our careful support and nurturing if it is to survive in the longer term."