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Theatres Trust: 'Theatres can play a crucial role in the Build Back Better agenda'

Today's spending review has assessed the impact of the pandemic

A theatre
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The Theatres Trust has responded to the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak's spending review today.

Sunak's forecast were naturally overshadowed by the significant impact and cost of the coronavirus pandemic – with growth set to be significantly stymied for the next couple of years. However, there have also been plans set up for major capital investment and a "Levelling Up" fund to help improve local infrastructure.

Given the well-documented lucrative nature of the arts industry, Jon Morgan of the Theatres Trust responded to the news this afternoon: "With £100bn for capital investment and a £4bn Levelling Up fund in the Spending Review, Theatres Trust believes that investment should be made into the nation's theatre buildings. Theatres can play a crucial role in the Build Back Better agenda, as vital creative and community hubs and as major contributors to local economies, in particular reviving beleaguered high streets."

Theatres are at the epicentre of a multi-billion pound eco-system – linked to nearby hotels, restaurants, transport systems and many many more aspects of wider society. A recent Arts Council England report put a significant emphasis on the pivotal relationship between cultural venues and high streets. As the London Mayor Sadiq Khan said, the pandemic has led to an "existential threat" to the West End.

Morgan added: "Our research has identified more than 80 theatre building improvement projects that are currently in development but are at risk due to Covid. These projects would provide new community facilities with improved access and environmental performance and would benefit from timely government investment, ensuring these assets continue to be fit for purpose in the 21st century and provide a much needed boost to local communities."

While the government's £1.57bn arts support package was welcomed by the theatre world, many urgent questions still remain around help for the freelance community – with a significant portion of the self-employed ineligible for the government-backed SEISS.

You can read more about our analysis on the interplay between local councils and theatres.

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