THE BELGRADE Theatre has joined venues across the UK by lighting up in red in a show of hope and solidarity with everyone who is missing live theatre.
Following the news of the government’s £1.57billion support package for the arts, the Belgrade Square venue joined the nationwide Light it in Red campaign, launched by Clearsound Productions and Backstage Theatre Jobs to raise awareness of the crisis the live performance sector is currently facing.
The theatre industry has been amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic, with artists, freelancers, venue staff, associated companies and community groups all affected by venue closures.
The government bailout was warmly received by the Belgrade Theatre, which is due to play a central role in Coventry’s City of Culture year from 2021-22.
But the theatre’s creative leadership team – comprising artistic director Hamish Glen and 2021 co-artistic directors Corey Campbell, Justine Themen and Balisha Karra – said the funding needed to do more than simply support venues.
They said: “The theatre industry has a complex and intricate ecology, and the success of theatre venues like ours relies on the health of the arts sector as a whole.
“It is vital the promised funding not only supports venues like the Belgrade, but also extends far and wide to cover freelancers, grassroots organisations and independent companies across the country.
“It is especially important that struggling artists, companies and community venues outside London are not forgotten.”
Executive director Joanna Reid agreed, saying it was vital the funding was evenly distributed across the country.
She said: “It’s more important than ever that we are well supported to continue entertaining and inspiring our communities.
“Where the Belgrade is now is the result of years of cumulative work and investment, which has recently included significant amounts of funding, time and preparation for the planning of our City of Culture programme.
“We feel it’s vital that we’re able to deliver on our promises to the people of Coventry and beyond.
“The City of Culture programme itself is part of wider government efforts in recent years to drive urgently-needed investment into cities outside London.
“We know that a well-funded, thriving local arts scene comes with huge social and economic benefits.”
Senior Producer Samir Bhamra said the arts were more than just the famous West End shows.
She said: “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.”
The creative leadership team added: “We hope this investment will enable us to fulfil our ambition of aiding the UK’s financial and social recovery from the crisis.
“The real work now begins. This bailout can’t be an excuse to resume business as usual when we reopen.
“We promise to work tirelessly now to ensure that we emerge from the lockdown better than we went into it, ready to deliver a bold, diverse and groundbreaking programme for Coventry’s City of Culture year in 2021-22.”