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Hospitality and arts sector leaders lay out key principles for recovery plan following summit

A virtual summit was held between a number of industry leaders

An audience

A summit took place last Thursday between industry leaders from across the arts and hospitality sector, laying out key principles for a recovery plan.

The attendees were from organisations including the Royal Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall, Society of London Theatre, UKHospitality, and Heart of London Business Alliance, as well as Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster.

All warned of the dire set of circumstances facing the industry – the Royal Albert Hall will only survive until April next year before being forced to fold, while the Royal Opera House's reserves will not last beyond autumn.

As previously reported, 70 per cent of theatres and cultural venues will run out of cash by the end of the year, which threatens to collapse the entire West End ecosystem which includes hotels, bars, restaurants and shops. All of the summit attendees noted the economic value of the hospitality sector, generating £40bn in tax for the exchequer each year.

The summit provided a number of key recovery solutions. A lot of these were to do with social distancing – how to make sure that any practical measures are both temporary and able to restore audience confidence. Looking abroad for practical solutions was vital, according to Aiken.

According to the summit, "the theatre industry is talking to government about a securing an urgent injection of money to keep it going." An agreed-upon value of £300m for every three months that venues are closed would save the sector across the whole of the UK. One model, including the use of repayable arts bonds, was suggested.

The summit also urged the government to release some form of hypothetical timeline for the reopening of large venues. As noted, the time between autumn and Christmas is vital for theatre as it can provide massive profits that in turn help nearby pubs, bars and hotels. Guidance, according to Aiken and others, is needed by the beginning of July.

You can find out more here, with the full report being published later today.

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