An open letter from Manchester has been sent to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, calling for more support for the cultural sector, and for a place at the task-force table to help shape a way forward for the cultural industry – an industry that has been massively hit by the corona crisis and is now struggling for its very survival.
The letter, sent last week by cultural lead Councillor Luthfur Rahman, calls for urgent financial support and focus to ensure effective recovery plans can be put in place for the cultural sector. It also includes an offer of direct support from the city – which is the second most visited city in England after London – to help shape the way forward.
Manchester’s high visitor numbers are in no small part due to being internationally renowned for its vast cultural offer of museums, galleries, orchestras, festivals, and vibrant music scene. The global strength of Manchester and the city region’s cultural, creative and digital industry sectors is also highlighted in Greater Manchester’s local industrial strategy.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills, Manchester City Council, said: “We will not stand by in Manchester and watch our theatres, museums, and galleries take their last gasp. Every day we hear from organisations across the city that tell us they are coming closer and closer to their final curtain.
“Without more support, and crucially without being able to have a say in what support is needed and what the future could look like if the right support was in place, this could easily be the end of the road for many artists and cultural organisations, and for what has been for generations the life-blood of our city.
“Culture and the arts are in Manchester’s DNA and have shown themselves time and again to be central to the city’s enduring strength, resilience, and world-wide reputation.
“We need urgent action now to keep the cultural heart beating, not just of our city but that of the whole country. As rightful recognition and long overdue payback for the massive sums of money that the cultural sector in Manchester and the rest of the country has for years put directly into the economy.
“And of course this isn’t just about at-risk jobs in the cultural sector itself – the cultural economy supports a huge number of other jobs as part of the wider visitor economy, in hotels, bars, shops, restaurants, retail, local taxis – all of which livelihoods depend on.
“Now more than ever it’s vital too that we don’t forget the positive impact our cultural and creative sector has on our society – on health, well-being, and education, across all age groups from young to old. Unless a life-line is sent and sent soon, this will be gone.
“It’s time to say thank you to our cultural sector for all of this, and, in these unprecedented times – to finally put some much-needed vital investment back into the industry without delay, before the lights get switched off for ever.”