Words By Elijah Arief
On February 15th the Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a Downing Street briefing detailing how lateral flow testing is key for nightclubs, theatres and other entertainment sectors to reopen. Standing up in front of the press, Johnson spoke about how he is keen to ensure that every adult is vaccinated against COVID-19 by the Autumn so that UK entertainment businesses can start to rebuild after the devastating hits that the lockdowns have given. The Prime Minister stated that “on the day testing” is key to these sectors thriving, and that only with mass vaccination can we start to see a reopening of theatres and nightclubs. The route the government seems to be taking is that when restrictions start to soften and entertainment businesses start to open, members of the public will have to take a test for COVID-19 ‘on the day’ to be allowed entry into the venue with the hopes that many will be able to enjoy live entertainment without social distancing measures or without the fear of catching the virus.
Many industries and sectors have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic, but it’s clear that the hospitality and arts industries have been suffering intensely. Many are worried about how these sectors will rebuild after lockdown restrictions are eased, and whether the government will give them adequate funding. The Prime Minister even said himself that the economy did not have space for the arts and entertainment industry in 2020, and there are many concerns that this attitude will continue into the coming years. The Prime Minister also stated that theatres and nightclubs are the “toughest nuts to crack” regarding the reopening of businesses. It very much seems as if the arts and live entertainment industries are being put on the back burner, which has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Prime Minister also mentioned that it is still “early days” to see just exactly where the future of the arts sector is headed, but many theatre venues and industries have been keen to get started regardless. Edinburgh Fringe has stated on their website that the Fringe will be returning home in August of 2021, but that they are unsure of what exactly the arts festival will look like. The website has also mentioned that the festival may be live, digital or a combination of the two. Brighton Fringe has also made plans to go ahead in May, and registration to take part has already been opened. Brighton Fringe this year may also be live, digital or a hybrid. Regardless, the arts industry is ready to provide you with entertainment despite government uncertainty.
From terrible SEISS grants to the disastrous Universal Credit applications, artists and performers have been stripped of their livelihoods. It would be a comfort for many to hear how the government plans to support the arts during the upcoming phased reopening, but it seems as if the arts sector will have to hold on for now until mass vaccination has been accomplished.