After the war, the arts came back stronger. They can do so again now | Charlotte Higgins

Covid-19 has devastated our theatres and museums. But with imagination we can create something better than before

The arts in Britain are in a dire situation. Mighty household names, such as London’s Old Vic and the Royal Albert Hall, have warned that they are close to collapse. The overwhelming majority of British cultural workers – freelance artists, musicians, composers, directors, actors, technicians – saw their livelihoods destroyed in a matter of hours this March. They are hanging on by a thread, notwithstanding government support for the self-employed.

In England, every available penny of Arts Council money has been directed into emergency funds to keep arts organisations alive until September, and the furlough scheme is a lifeline; but some are already disintegrating. Nuffield Southampton Theatre called in the administrators on 6 May. After a decade of austerity, there is absolutely no fat in the British system.

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