The Guardian view on £1.5bn for the arts: the shows will go on | Editorial

Culture needed a lifeline, and has got one. Now the sector must avoid treading water

There are as many reasons to applaud the UK government’s decision to pump £1.57bn into the arts as there are theatres, concert halls, galleries, libraries, singers, dancers, acrobats, violinists, costume designers, stagehands, artists, audience members and myriad other people and organisations that will benefit from this injection. The arts sector had been poleaxed by the coronavirus pandemic. While culture, along with nature, has been a source of consolation during recent months, this has mainly applied to those forms enjoyed at home: television, recorded music, books. For live performance and museums, the pandemic has felt more like a kiss of death, as buildings have stood empty and productions have been shelved. The Haymarket Theatre in Leicester and Nuffield Southampton Theatres have already announced that they are closing.

Ministers should have acted sooner. It is more than a month since the German government announced a bailout package including €1bn set aside for culture. But the unexpected generosity of the package announced on Sunday shows that campaigners put the extra time to good use, both in public and private. By persuading the government to invest in the arts, the sector has won an important argument. Not only has the government accepted that the arts are of vital importance to the economy, it has also recognised that their value is not purely instrumental. Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, described them as “crown jewels” and “the soul of our nation”. Progressives may balk at such language, which is at odds with a more egalitarian, inclusive and internationalist conception of what art is for and about. But we can still be glad that the plays, music, museum collections and public spaces that we value are recognised by the government as being among our most precious national treasures – not least because they have the power to bring us together.

Continue reading… Source: The Guardian: The Guardian view on £1.5bn for the arts: the shows will go on | Editorial ———

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