Bristol Old Vic's response to the cultural investment announcement

6 Jul 2020

In the wake of the government's cultural investment announcement on Sun 5 Jul, Artistic Director Tom Morris said:

We are delighted by the scale and range of last night's announcement.  Artists, economists, producers and audience members have powerfully argued that the national theatre infrastructure would be impossible to rebuild if we were to let it collapse. Government has heard that call and invested.

There’s much to find out about how the funds will be applied but this investment feels like a decisive vote of confidence by Rishi Sunak and Oliver Dowden in the enormous contribution that the arts and culture can make to our social, educational, creative and economic recovery from the COVID19 disaster. It can’t save every organisation or support every artist, but we unreservedly welcome and applaud it. 

Like others across the sector, we look forward to working closely with ACE and DCMS to ensure that the funds can be released quickly enough to minimise the damage of cuts being made to many organisations, and be used speedily to employ the freelance artists who have been so badly hit by the pandemic.

We need to make sure that money reaches freelance artists fast, not only through the hardship funds announced from Netflix and others, but through meaningful employment too.

In Bristol, we fervently hope these funds will allow us renew our work with our communities in the immediate term, and to rebuild our programmes through experimental performances until we can play safely to full houses again.

It is also hugely encouraging to see that some in government are thinking ahead towards the next five years of cultural investment. The economic impact and global reputation of British creativity has been tested, proven and newly understood through the many debates in parliament and the media over the last few months. Today’s announcement creates a brilliant platform for a cross-party conversation to ensure that we have the strongest possible cultural infrastructure to deliver the inclusive and equalising vision of the Arts Council’s ten year strategy, Let’s Create.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have both referenced Roosevelt’s New Deal in relation to the infrastructure investment to be announced this Wednesday. Art and culture were also a crucial part of that visionary economic intervention, and Britain’s artists in every art form are now ready to play a central role in the transformation of our country to make it fairer, greener, more representative and more confident in the transformative value of creativity for all.

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

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