Covid-19 money good news for staff and freelancers
Four Edinburgh venues will share £1,719,200 from the Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund to help them stave off insolvency, secure staff jobs and provide opportunities for freelancers.
The venues are the Lyceum which is getting £750,000, the Traverse (£500,000), Dance Base (£256,200) and the Scottish Storytelling Centre (£213,000). All four receive regular core funding from Creative Scotland.
The money is part of the £12.5million fund to support performing arts venues that cannot yet re-open due to Covid-19.
The funds will help the venues move from a period of inactivity – “hibernation” in the case of the Lyceum – to a point where they can start making more work and engaging with audiences more.
David Greig and Mike Griffiths, chief executives at the Lyceum, are clear of the critical nature of the funding. They said in a joint statement: “This vital support secures the immediate future of Lyceum, something which has been in real doubt since our doors closed in March with the loss of over £800,000 in earned income.”
A spokesperson for the Traverse told Æ that the funds will “ensure the continuation of the Traverse.”
She added: ” We are currently planning how these funds can best help to evolve the Traverse for the future and support the wider theatre industry, in particular the freelance community who are such an essential part of the Traverse team. Details of these plans will be made available soon.”
The first criterion for securing the funding is that it staves off insolvency. The two further sets of criteria are that venues use it to both help get staff back to work and to increase the number of freelancers they work with.
Greig and Griffiths add: “Consultation will recommence with unions to ensure we retain as many posts as possible, and we are delighted that this award will allow us to start bringing our brilliant, talented staff back from furlough to develop new ways of working in our venue, online and in new spaces.
“As we begin the work of re-opening, and creating a programme for our audiences, we will also be engaging a host of freelance artists and creative practitioners who are the lifeblood of theatre and who have been hit so hard by the pandemic.”
The money will also help fill some of the space left in the artistic year by the loss of the Fringe, as it goes to finding alternative ways of reaching audiences.
Dance Base chief executive, Jim Hollington explains: “The cancellation of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme at Dance Base has had a significant impact on the programming of contemporary dance in Scotland, depriving artists of important opportunities and risking declining audience interest.
“We will use this funding to commission Scottish dance artists and their collaborators to deliver new projects over the next eight months, using Dance Base’s building as a canvas, working outdoors and with other partners, and on screens and smartphones.”
It gives hope
Donald Smith, CEO of TRACS, which runs the Storytelling Centre, said: “The Scottish Storytelling Centre is a busy hive for Scotland’s creative communities. We are relieved and delighted that this Scottish Government funding will enable that work to go on through difficult times.
“It gives hope to us and everyone we serve.”
A total of 20 regularly funded venues across Scotland were included in this round, receiving a total £7.5 million. Creative Scotland says it will announce how the remaining £5 million will be allocated “in due course”.
The funds will be available to charities and local authority-owned venues, but not commercial companies, under the same three criteria of stopping insolvency, getting staff back to work and engaging with freelancers.