Yorkshire’s newest metro mayor Tracy Brabin, whose own successful acting career included a three-year stint in Coronation Street in the 1990s, has pointed out that almost 8,000 in West Yorkshire’s creative industries are still on furlough and there are fears that redundancies may soon be on the cards. Amid reports that a quarter of the 200,000 creative freelancers will not return to the industry after being forced out of work following the sector taking an estimated £74bn hit to revenue last year, the General Secretary of performers’ union Equity Paul Fleming says there is “terror” among his members about whether industries like theatre and television will return to their pre-pandemic health.
From acclaimed television shows like All Creatures Great and Small to fantastic theatre productions such as Everybody’s Talking about Jamie which debuted in Sheffield before heading to the West End, the arts not only provide employment opportunities in Yorkshire, they also bring in visitors and help sell the region around the world.
Those running cinemas, art galleries and creating stage productions are now holding their breath to see if audiences return in the necessary numbers in the coming weeks and months. After such a torrid time, the value of the arts to both put our own experiences into context and also take us away from day-to-day concerns has never been more appreciated for many after being taken away for so long because of the repeated lockdowns caused by the pandemic.
By supporting local events and productions, everyone in Yorkshire can play a role in getting the region’s creative sector back on its feet.