Theatre News

Socially distanced protests to criticise the government's treatment of the arts postponed

The previously scheduled 11 July event will be put on hold after the £1.5 billion support package announcement

A deserted Piccadilly Circus
A deserted Piccadilly Circus
© Kwh1050 / CC BY-SA (

A series of protests across the UK that were arranged take place on 11 July have been postponed.

The events were originally organised to criticise the government's treatment of the arts sector during the ongoing pandemic. But since the government announced a £1.5 billion package to support the arts through the pandemic on 5 July, the protests have been paused pending further details.

The protest in London was arranged to commence at 12pm in Trafalgar Square under the hashtag "#CanYouHearThePeopleSing". The singing of showtunes during the event was almost guaranteed, with the idea inspired by Sarah Jane Price.

Further details on the national initiative can be found here.

Organiser Darren Bell has commented: "Our peaceful protest was to highlight that theatre had been left behind by the government's COVID-19 recovery schemes. In light of the government support announced on 5 July, we have taken the decision to pause the protest on 11 July until the full detail of the financial aid is understood.

"The amount of money in the rescue package is more than anyone anticipated. For some context, the ACE National Portfolio Organisation investment budget is an average of £410m a year (£1.64 billion over 4 years from 2018-2022). Such vital support will undoubtedly go a long way to ensure that our industry remains afloat whilst a roadmap to reopening is developed.

"We have not forgotten those who have been so far excluded from financial support and who are in desperate need right now. We don't know who will and who won't benefit from this and the details will need more scrutiny to know if it really meets the needs of the sector. But we feel it is right to pause at this time to give this lifeline the chance it deserves to make a difference and reach the organisations and people that so desperately need it.

"There's a long journey to the recovery of theatre and live events but we welcome this government reaction to the determined lobbying of our sector. Whether it has been through social noise, MP letters, signing petitions or supporting proposed protests, your support has made a difference and we are determined to stand together through this.

"Once we have the chance to review and discuss the details, we want to make sure we channel the momentum and commitment you have shown in the right direction. For now, we support SOLT's statement in response to the statement from DCMS.

"Thank you for your continued support."

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