Coronavirus: U.K. Will Become "Cultural Wasteland" Without Support, Stars Warn

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Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry and Nick Cave are among the signatories of a letter that says the U.K. government must "act, and act fast."

More than 400 figures from the creative community have warned that the U.K. will become a "cultural wasteland" unless the British government provides urgent financial support for the creative industries. 

The warning came in a letter to the U.K. chancellor and culture secretary that was signed by names including Stephen Fry, Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright, Simon Callow, Meera Syal, Jonathan Price and Sophie Dahl, and organizations such as the Royal Albert Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate, Penguin Random House and Lionsgate.

The letter said that many creative organizations and professionals needed urgent cash support if they were to bounce back from the crisis, claiming that many were falling through the gaps of existing government COVID-19 support measures. This argument has been gaining momentum in recent weeks, with many cultural bodies and charities — including The Film and TV Charity — highlighting how a vast majority of the U.K.'s creative workforce doesn't qualify for the self-employed or job retention financial schemes that have been introduced. 

The government must "act, and act fast," the letter urged.  "The government needs to understand that culture is not the icing on the cake — it is the cake, which provides delight and nourishment, and defines who and what we are," said Callow.

"Since the beginning of time, people have gathered to listen to music and stories together," added Wainwright. "Creativity is what makes us human. A virus cannot stop time."

Last week, The Film and TV Charity revealed that its COVID-19 emergency support fund had run dry after almost 5,000 industry workers applied for $6 million in assistance.