The government has stepped in to protect the UK’s cultural infrastructure, but has neglected the people who make the art
The £1.57bn rescue package for the arts that the UK government announced on 5 July was both absolutely necessary and rightly welcomed. The funds ought to be sufficient to sustain Britain’s artistic and cultural infrastructure until the spring. Had they not materialised, institutions such as the Royal Opera House would have faced collapse by Christmas.
Yet theatres, concert halls, opera houses and arts centres are only the pipes through which art flows. While it is clearly important to keep this infrastructure functioning, it is of absolutely no use on its own. Indeed, the purely physical infrastructure is, by and large, the problem in terms of Covid-19, since it presents the issue of mass gatherings indoors. It is the work – art made by freelancers – that matters, and that audiences pay to see.