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Red lights spell danger

With so many theatres on the brink of financial collapse Coventry's Belgrade Theatre and hundreds of others throughout the UK will be tonight (August 11) joining in a national "Light It In Red" campaign in support of the arts.

Concert halls, theatres and museums will be showing their support by turning on the red light to highlight an industry that has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid pandemic.

There is no going back for some theatres which have already closed their doors for good.

Earlier this year - and with Coventry's City of Culture already being delayed until May 2021 - the Government announced a £1.57 billion support package for the arts.

Far more will be needed.

Despite the majority of staff at The Belgrade being at home on furlough, several have been alled back in to run socially distanced acting classes for children.

Earlier in the year, when the red lights illuminated all theatres for the first time, senior producer Samir Bhamra said: “The arts are more than just the glitzy, sparkling shows that the West End is associated with. The Belgrade undertakes a wide range of outreach work with communities in Coventry to make sure the arts are accessible to everyone.

"For example, as a Theatre of Sanctuary, we work with new migrant communities who have made the UK their home. We are also continuing to work with with well-established communities in the city, from the South Asian women who take part in regular workshops with Balisha Karra, to a new partnership our Embedded Community Producer, Krysztina Winkel, has been forging with Roma people in the city.''

Artistic director Hamish Glen said the government's commitment to a bailout for the arts has come as a huge relief for theatres, helping to address the massive uncertainty they have been facing.

What remains to be seen is how the money will be distributed.

But grants, rather than loans, are perhaps the only real answer.

Meanwhile, the red lights will continue to be switched on.

See Belgrade's summer boredom buster elsewhere on our news pages

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