Armed with green wigs, sequined costumes or extravagant hats, dozens of clowns, pantomimes and actors marched through central London on Wednesday to alert on the situation of the cultural sector, very affected by the pandemic.
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“I am here today to highlight the state in which our industry finds itself. He is on his knees, ”Matthew Baldwin told AFP, under his pink makeup and curlers.
“It’s not just pantomimes”, adds the artist of these shows originating in England and very popular at Christmas: “thousands” of people “all over the country need work, and not only people on stage, but also behind the scenes ”.
Forced to close during lockdown, theaters and cultural institutions in general have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 42,000 lives in the UK, the most bereaved country in Europe.
Some have since reopened but many have given up in the face of the sanitary constraints remaining in place, severely limiting the presence of the public. Among other things, the event called for a full return schedule for spectators.
Without a season of the famous Christmas pantomimes, theaters will lose up to 40% of their annual revenues, warned Paul Flemming, general secretary of the Equity union, warning of the risk of “collapse of a sector that generates billions of books for the economy ”.
In early July, the government promised the sector unprecedented aid of 1.57 billion pounds (1.74 billion euros), hailed as vital, but not sufficient. To remedy this, private initiatives are emerging.
The philanthropist Vivien Duffield announced Wednesday to release funds to “put back on foot” museums, theater and other cultural places, hoping to stimulate a movement.
Via its foundation, it will pay 2.5 million pounds (2.75 million euros) to major London institutions (Tate Modern, British Museum, V&A museum), but also to other regions, such as the Royal Shakespeare Compagny in Stratford-upon-Avon, Hillsborough Castle in Belfast or the Museum of Liverpool.
With this initiative, she hopes “to generate leads in this dark period,” she explained to the press.
Tom Morris, Artistic Director of the Old Vic Theater in Bristol, hailed an endowment that will “not only fund our activity, but also send a powerful message to anyone considering investing in culture right now”.