Theatres closed until 9 February
On Tuesday 12 January, PM Mark Rutte announced that the lockdown will be prolonged by three more weeks. This means 10 February would be the first possible date for theatres and other cultural venues to re-open. However, with the new mutation of Covid-19 that has come over from the UK, it seems increasingly likely the lockdown will extend beyond that date. At the same time an evening curfew features heavily in the discussions on measures.
Also on 12 January, the Taskforce of the Cultural and Creative Sector made an appeal to parliament in a letter, anticipating on a debate that was planned in parliament the day after. The Taskforce was founded after theatres, museums, cinemas and cultural institutions had to close on 12 March 2020. In its letter the Taskforce asks for five urgent short-term decisions to offer this vital sector of cultural life some perspective:
The cultural sector needs to be able to look forward to a re-opening with audience members within one and a half meters distance in time. For the sector to keep this perspective, the following steps should be taken now:
- Create a 500 million Euro guarantee fund to help cultural festivals and others with the uninsured risks of the pandemic. This decision should be taken before 1 February to prevent a lost season for festivals, producers and suppliers.
- Devise a predictable and realistic strategy for the downscaling of measures around visits to cultural events and participation in them, with a roadmap for easing these restrictions
- Enable test events (Fieldlabs) as soon possible to gather expertise about safe ways to organise meetings in a pandemic-sensitive society.
Further elements are needed to help the heavily affected sector come through the lockdown and restrictions. The Taskforce offers two more proposals to give a much-needed sense of more security towards the upcoming festival season:
4. As the duration of the generic and sector-specific emergency relief is too short, because after 1 July the restrictions will probably continue to apply, clarity is needed before 12 February about at least a new generic support package for the second half of 2021.
5. The 537 million Euro sector-specific emergency relief package has not reached the sector sufficiently. The Taskforce is therefore asking parliament to urge the cabinet to start a proactive and careful allocation of resources.