“The world looks to British theatre. So let’s get it back on track…”
So ran the headline in the Observer on Sunday 24th May 2020. It was an article by Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital Culture Media and Sport. ( https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/may/24/the-world-looks-to-british-theatre-so-lets-get-it-back-on-track ) The article presented the new task force and working groups which was the same old storey with the usual suspects in place. Of course the arts needs to find ways, innovative or otherwise to get back to where people can turn up and experience a live performance. What is required is not spin but substance; a bold vision and bolder actions. Firstly there needs to be a Marshall Aid Plan for the arts, secondly the development of a joined up national arts plan that brings all the components of the arts togeather from pubs to cinemas; from opera houses to folk and jazz clubs, from theatres to art galleries. Thirdly, a national arts festival embracing Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, a festival where all arts forms, in their widest possible sense, and musics are equally represented. The Festival, like the Festival Britain in 1951, should embrace not just the arts but science and technology. Finally there needs to be a reformation in the funding of the arts with an organisation that can deliver a rolling, realistic and coherent national plan for the arts that ensures equitable funding where under-represented musics and art forms finally get a place in the sun.