Cineworld closure plan highlights arts sector’s desperate plight - The Yorkshire Post says

Cineworld is reportedly planning the temporary closures of all of its UK cinemas. Picture: PACineworld is reportedly planning the temporary closures of all of its UK cinemas. Picture: PA
Cineworld is reportedly planning the temporary closures of all of its UK cinemas. Picture: PA
If there was any remaining doubt about the extent of the problems facing the creative sector as a result of coronavirus, two pieces of news underline the severity of the situation across the industry.

The Royal Opera House has taken the decision to auction off a portrait by Yorkshire artist David Hockney of its former chief executive Sir David Webster in a desperate bid to raise funds, while Cineworld is planning to close all of its UK cinemas for the foreseeable future as new releases dry up – putting 5,500 jobs at risk with staff being asked to accept redundancy now and rejoin next year when the theatres hopefully open again.

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The Hockney painting is expected to fetch between £11m and £18m, helping to secure the immediate future of the Royal Opera House, which is one of the biggest arts employers in the country.

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But other culturally-vital organisations – from independent cinemas to regional theatres and gig venues – will not be able to pull such a rabbit from the hat to balance their books.

Whether it is a trip to the cinema for a moment of escapism in front of the latest blockbuster or going to the theatre to see actors explore the complexity of the human condition, the arts have a central role in all of our lives and every effort must be taken to ensure their survival after the pandemic has passed.

In an increasingly-divided world, the importance of qualities like imagination, empathy and insight brought through shared experiences like theatre, cinema and live music cannot be underestimated.

Communities, as well as Government, must do what they can to support such local treasures.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson

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