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Stephen Fry, Rufus Wainwright Warn U.K. Risks Becoming ‘Cultural Wasteland’ Without Government Aid

Creatives Warn U.K. Risks Becoming 'Cultural
Jonathan Hordle/REX/Shutterstock

More than 400 leading creative figures including Stephen Fry, Grayson Perry, Rufus Wainwright and Simon Callow have warned that the U.K. risks becoming “a cultural wasteland” unless government provides urgent financial support for the creative industries.

In an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, they called for urgent funding for those creative organizations and professionals hit hardest by the fallout of COVID-19.

Organized by the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), the letter’s other signatories include the heads of the Royal Albert Hall, Film Birmingham, Royal Opera House, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate, Penguin Random House, Northern Ireland Screen and Lionsgate U.K.

The publication of the letter follows a CIF survey of creative organizations and freelancers that found that 50% have already lost 100% of their income, and that one in seven only have reserves to last until the end of April. Only half have reserves that will last beyond June.

“We cannot allow the U.K. to lose half of its creative businesses and become a cultural wasteland,” says the letter. “The creative industries are one of the U.K.’s biggest success stories, previously growing at five times the rate of the wider economy. The creative sector will also be critical to driving the U.K.’s economic recovery — and transforming lives for the better — as we re-build.”

The creative industries generated £111.7 billion ($137.7 billion) for the U.K. economy last year.

Other signatories include: musicians Nick Cave and PJ Harvey; actors Sinéad Cusack and Jonathan Pryce; Original Talent CEO and Curtis Brown chairman Jonny Geller; Lionsgate U.K. CEO Zygi Kamasa, and artist Anish Kapoor.

Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “With venues, museums and cinemas closed, film shoots postponed and festivals cancelled, the UK’s world-leading creative industries are in deep trouble.

“Creative organizations and professionals need cash, and they need it now. Whilst government support measures for businesses and the self-employed are welcome, we know that there are still thousands of creative organizations and freelancers who are falling through the gaps, and who simply will not get through this crisis without urgent cash support.”