Prince Charles has issued a strong warning over the "desperate" situation faced by arts organisations in the UK as they fight to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, urging that ways must be found to protect their futures.
In an interview on Classic FM, the Prince of Wales said the coronavirus crisis was hitting music and arts organisations particularly hard, and that their loss would be "a total, utter tragedy".
The prince described the situation for the UK’s arts companies as "a desperate thing", and said: "They are so utterly vital for this country and play such a huge part in cultural diplomacy. At the moment, of course, they’re completely silent and unable to operate and unable to work.”
His comments, made as part of a specially curated programme on Classic FM, followed urgent warnings from institutions including the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Southbank Centre and Shakespeare’s Globe, who said the prolonged closure caused by the pandemic was putting their future existence in doubt.
The Royal Opera House is also among those calling for a government support package to help arts organisations and their workforce survive the crisis.
Prince Charles said he believed it "absolutely crucial that they can come back twice as enthusiastic as before".
Speaking about the ROH, where he is patron, he said: "I love going there more than anything, since I was seven years old. They are in terrible difficulties, because how are they going to be able to restart?
"[Opera] is a very expensive art form but it’s crucial because it has such a worldwide impact, and our reputation in this country with music, the quality of music and singing, and everything else, is very high. We have to find a way to make sure these marvellous people and organisations can survive through it all."
However, he expressed concerns over the feasibility of performances restarting while restrictions are still in place.
"I just keep hoping that gradually there will be ways found to try to ensure that something can happen, but of course if you can’t fill concert halls because of social distancing, it makes it very complicated to know how you present anything and survive," he said.