Protect the arts from economic devastation following COVID-19 closures

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Boris Johnson today advised those in the UK to "avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues. However, it was also made clear in this briefing that the Government would not legally force venues to close.

While promoting self-isolation is undoubtedly the right choice, it leaves the theatre industry - particualrly smaller or unfunded venues - in a hugely precarious position.

Had the Government enforced these closures legally, small theatres, independent bars and venues, comedy clubs and similar entertainment venues could (in many cases) claim some compensation on their business insurance. This would enable many of them to at least meet some costs, with the potential to offset the costs of their hardest hit performers and staff.

Instead many places have no choice but to stay open, or those who close will be liable for all their costs. Artists and staff will have no way of claiming for loss of income and for small arts organisations who are trying to support those in the early stages of their careers, this could mean permanent closure.

This is a disaster for freelancers and organisations and has the potential to put the whole sector at risk. The creative industries pour billions into the UK each year - this could be a disaster for the economy, as well as hundreds of thousands of currently employed people. What is insurance for if not to protect against this?

Please ask the Government to support theatres and live events during these troubled times and urgently clarify their position on financial relief.