Theatre News

Freelance community criticise Culture Secretary following Omicron tweet

Many freelancers have been hard-hit during this last month

Nadine Dorries
Nadine Dorries
© UK Parliament, Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0),

Dozens of freelancers in the theatre community have criticised Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries following her recent tweets over the state of the arts sector.

Earlier today, Dorries tweeted saying: "I know theatres are facing challenges due to Omicron. The Culture Recovery Fund remains open, and is available for theatres – of any type – to apply for emergency resource support funding should they need it. Many theatres have applied and have already received emergency funding. Don't delay in submitting your application – do it now."

The Cultural Recovery Fund, set up in the summer of 2020, has successfully provided millions of pounds for institutions and organisations, but has drawn much criticism for its lack of direct support for individuals.

This most recent round of emergency funding is said to be for: "cultural organisations that are properly constituted with a governing document and are able to demonstrate, via cashflow forecast, they are at risk of ceasing to trade viably within 12 weeks of the point of application".

Due to Covid-related closures, many freelancers are going without pay during what is normally one of the most lucrative periods of the year.

Director Dean Johnson was quick to reply to Dorries' tweet: "not enough. The freelancers who uphold theatre need support", while Waitress' Sandra Marvin said: "…. And what should the freelance actors and operators who all work in this industry…. What do you suggest we do?"

Georgia Louise, who appeared in the Grease tour, said simply: "I am not a building, Nadine." Alun Hood added: "look, without artists & freelancers these venues won't have anybody to keep them alive when this is over. Where is the support for these people? They pay their taxes the same as everyone else,and they've all taken a financial battering already. You have to step up."

Producer Darren Bell stated: "I beg you, stop tweeting about the culture recovery fund and do some homework as to who needs the help. Freelancers and self employed get £0 from this fund. It's not there for all. It never was, never has been. You really need to step up, Nadine."

Many within the freelance community, a portion of which was ineligible for financial support, have again been left without income during the turbulent months of lockdown. The old, government-back Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), was wrapped up earlier this year.

In the absence of state-backed support, a variety of charities are doing important work directly sustaining creatives. Be sure to check out the likes of Acting for Others, the Theatre Support Fund and the Theatre Artists' Fund.

Recently, it was announced that there'd be no lockdown restrictions imposed before Christmas.

Last week, the Culture Secretary was kicked out of a Conservative Party WhatsApp group following her defence of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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