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Culture Secretary: Details about applications for the £1.57bn support package to be revealed 'within days'

MP Oliver Dowden has responded to calls for further information

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden
© UK Parliament / Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has given an update on the arts investment package that was revealed earlier this month.

Taking to Twitter, the MP said that more details about Rishi Sunak's £1.57bn package will be revealed imminently. Dowden said: "We'll be releasing details of the process for applications within days – [it is] imperative that we get this right to get help to where it's needed quickly".

Dowden's tweet followed a letter penned by Equity general secretary Christine Payne and general secretary elect Paul W Fleming earlier this week, asking for "clarification on how the arts rescue package...can support the creative workforce directly".

The letter goes on to say that "it is becoming increasingly clear that the £1.57bn promised will not directly help them. Redundancy consultations and demands for pay cuts and reductions to terms and conditions are continuing at many arts organisations all over the country even among those hoping to receive funding from the rescue package."

Venues across the UK have been progressing with redundancy consultations, including Sheffield Theatres, the National Theatre and the Southbank Centre.

Find a breakdown of the package here

In other news, the UK government has said that the wearing of facemasks in theatres is not mandatory, in a series of complex stipulations about when and when not to wear the coverings.

As the government prepares to enforce the wearing of masks in shops and restaurants as well as on public transport, it has revealed a number of exemptions. According to a new release from the Department of Health and Social Care: "Wearing a face covering will not be made mandatory in venues that have measures in place to protect staff and the public from COVID-19. These include:

• eat-in restaurants and pubs
• hairdressers and other treatment salons
• gyms and leisure centres
• cinemas, concert halls and theatres

However, Andrew Lloyd Webber's pilot performance at The London Palladium yesterday made the wearing of face masks compulsory, while Regent's Park Open Air Theatre has said it will be mandatory for audience members to wear face masks for its run of Jesus Christ Superstar. Other venues are issuing similar rules.

The release states outright that: "There is evidence to suggest that, when used correctly, face coverings may reduce the likelihood of someone with the infection passing it on to others, particularly if they are asymptomatic."

The rules also say that face coverings will not be mandatory for:

• anyone under the age of 11
• those with disabilities or certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments that make it difficult for them to wear a face covering.

Audiences should always check what a theatre's guidance is regarding face coverings, and make adequate preparations.