image captionThe BBC spoke with members of The Young Actors Company in Cambridge to find out their views on the additional arts funding announced in the budget
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged £400m for the struggling arts sector. The BBC spoke with a group from the Young Actors Company in Cambridge to see what they made of the announcement and the Budget as a whole.
Having struggled since last March when gig venues, cinemas and theatres were forced to close, the Budget announcement could not have come soon enough for the arts sector.
Many who work in the industry are freelancers who have found themselves struggling during successive lockdowns.
The Budget outlined an extra £700m for sporting, cultural and arts organisations as part of an overall £65bn of extra government spending.
But paying back the growing debt of recovery will fall partly on the shoulders of the next generation. Here is what some of them made of the chancellor’s announcement.
‘We have embraced kindness’
image caption“I’m passionate about theatre because story-telling is fundamentally about life,” says Daisy Bates.
“For me, lockdown has felt like a time when we have embraced kindness and become more aware of the wider community,” says Daisy Bates, 17. “I hope that is going to continue.”
She says while the government’s extra £65bn in spending is vital, a key part in the national recovery post-Covid is the public at large doing what it can to support the people and businesses around them.
She particularly welcomes the extra money announced for the creative arts and culture sectors.
“I’m passionate about theatre because storytelling is fundamentally about life,” she says. “Telling stories, putting on productions in theatres and making films for the cinema is such an important part of life.”
‘We are the future’
image captionNina Thandi Ludidi said the extra funding for the arts had given her ‘hope’
Like Daisy, Nina Thandi Ludidi, 11, says the extra funding announcement for the arts is a great boost.
“We were working really hard towards a play at the beginning of 2020 and then we were told we could not do it,” she says.
“This [the funding announcement] gives us hope that things will come back.”
She says ensuring the funding reaches grass roots arts groups is vital.
“The National Theatre and other big organisations are the present,” she says. “But we young actors are the future and if we don’t get enough support we could be looking at less performing arts in the future.”
‘Will those younger than me get the same opportunities?’
image captionMani Lad, who was in Sky Atlantic’s The Third Day, would like to have seen an increase in Universal Credit
Mani Lad, 16, says while he backs the extension of Universal Credit, he is disappointed with the overall amount saying it was not enough to properly support those families who relied on it.
“I was quite impressed by Rishi Sunak’s plan to raise the corporation tax on profits for the larger businesses,” he says. “But what I fear is that this extra tax money might not be going into the right places.
“In the next few years, it is going to be the local organisations and companies that will be the most in need.”
He says he wants the extra arts funding to be very targeted towards bringing forward new talent.
“Before Covid, the creative industries were booming,” he says. “But for people younger than me, I fear they might not get the same opportunities.”
You might also be interested in:
‘It will take a lot of time’
image captionAlison Heylen voiced concerns that it would fall to her generation to pick up the bill from the Budget announcement
Alison Heylen, 14, is concerned about the amount of extra spending announced overall in the Budget.
“It will take a lot of time for all the extra debt to be repaid,” she says. “It all sounds good but we will have to be paying this back at some point.”
And some of the responsibility for covering the economic costs of the pandemic, she says, will be borne by her generation and the generations to come.
She also questions whether the environmental announcements in the Budget – such as the new green bonds to support the sustainable energy sector – were as ‘green’ as often portrayed.
‘Many have not been able to work remotely’
image caption“It is important that the smaller businesses get a lot of care,” says Sophie Spencer
Sophie Spencer, 13, welcomes the extension of support for the furlough scheme and for the self-employed.
“It is good because there are many people out there who have not been to work at home or do their work online,” she says. “So this will help them. And those types of jobs are ones on which other people’s jobs often rely.
“It is important that the smaller businesses get a lot of care.”
Sophie is especially keen that government support makes its way to the smaller theatres and production groups.
“When things return to normality, people will be going to the bigger theatres because they tend to go to those anyway,” she says.
“They won’t necessarily be thinking about the smaller ones. It will be those which need the extra support.”
‘I will be asking for more pocket money’
image captionKader N’Diaye says he has been going through lines with other actors on Zoom to get through lockdown
Kader N’Diaye, 14, says throughout lockdown a key challenge for actors was to keep practising.
For him, that included weekly Zoom sessions with another actor and working through lines together.
“It was still acting even if it was not quite the same as performing in person,” he says.
He says he is pleased with the continued support for the furloughed and self-employed, pointing out that many actors and those involved with the creative arts are self-employed freelancers.
“I was quite happy about that,” he says. “There are so many people who work for themselves and I think sometimes they don’t get the credit they deserve.”
His mother Kathie is pleased that both VAT and fuel duty has been held at the current level and the increase in the income tax threshold.
“Anything which leaves a bit more money in people’s pockets is to be welcomed,” she says. “And it is great that the furlough scheme has been extended. The recovery is going to take time.”
“I will definitely be asking for a bit more pocket money,” adds Kader.
Related Internet Links
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.