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Rishi Sunak has suggested musicians and others in the arts industry should look at retraining and finding other jobs.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said in a recent interview that those working in the creative industry may not be able to return to the same career they had prior to the current pandemic.
When asked whether creatives should seek different employment, he said: ‘I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis. That’s why we’ve put a lot of resource into trying to create new opportunities.’
He also told ITV News that the government is ‘trying to do everything we can to protect as many jobs as possible’, while adding that unemployment is ‘likely to increase’.
Sunak tried to clarify that while there’s still work in the arts industry, ‘as in all walks of life, everyone’s having to adapt’, including the UK’s ‘fabulous musicians and artists and actors’.
He continued: ‘Can things happen in exactly the way they did? No. But everyone is having to find ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality.’
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As usual the UK government treating music industry like shit; contributes 5bn to the economy, generates massive tax revenues for NHS and other public services…besides that, culture is extremely fucking important…you’ve lost sight of what life is about…you’d rather live in a world of supermarkets and pharmaceutical drugs
Calvin Harris slammed the government’s treatment of the arts in an Instagram post, citing the £5 billion it brings to the economy while adding: ‘Culture is extremely f*cking important… you’ve lost sight of what life is about… you’d rather live in a world of supermarkets and pharmaceutical drugs.’
Sunak’s suggestion comes in the wake of Cineworld’s planned closure of all its UK sites, as well as its Regal venues in the US, following the delay of No Time To Die. While some have levelled complaints at the studios, others took aim at the government for not offering any support for the arts industry.
Sunak also pointed towards the Cultural Recovery Fund, a £1.57 billion package for the UK’s arts, culture and heritage industries to help them ‘weather the impact of coronavirus’. There’s also the Job Support Scheme, a replacement for the furlough scheme earlier this year which will only be available for ‘viable’ jobs.
It was announced in July, intended to ‘help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors’. However, just this week, it was revealed that applications for the fund had been delayed by a week, leaving venues and other industry professionals at risk without support.
The Arts Council explained in a statement to NME:
We understand this is an anxious time for many people and many organisations up and down the country.
We apologise that there is a week’s delay in letting the first tranche of grants applicants know decisions, but we will still be able to get money to them this month. Given the volume and complexity of the applications that came through to this brand new fund, we’ve had to do additional due diligence to make sure money from the public purse is spent responsibly.
Following Cineworld’s news, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said he would ‘encourage people to go out to the cinema, enjoy themselves and support’ local theatres.
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