An open letter from our Director and CEO, Dave Moutrey, to Greater Manchester MPs

To Greater Manchester MPs,

It was with great disappointment and frustration that we received the news that Greater Manchester would be put into Tier 3 next week, meaning the region’s cultural venues will be unable to reopen.

The idea that people are safer in a shop or gym than they are in a theatre, gallery or cinema is illogical. There is no data to suggest that cultural venues pose a significant transmission risk, and so closing businesses that have invested so much money and time in making themselves Covid secure is economically and scientifically unjustifiable. The data shows that households are where the virus is most transmitted – and that you’re safer in a venue than you are at home. Visiting a theatre or cinema as a household would have been one of the few joyous and safe options available to families this Christmas. There is no reason to stop this from happening.

Financially, the Christmas period is crucial for museums, galleries, theatres and cinemas, and the tightening of the Tier 3 restrictions means that these organisations will be unable to recoup any of the year’s losses. Not only will this take a heavy toll on the organisations themselves, it will also have a massive impact on the freelance staff who make up so much of the sector, and who have already been so badly let down this year.

The arts plays a huge role in the country’s economic success. HOME had an economic impact to the city of Manchester of £26 million in 2019/20 according to our latest assessment, including £1 million in health and wellbeing cost savings for the NHS. We are just one venue. The combined impact of all the region’s venues combined is huge – and yet we are unable to fulfil this potential due to these restrictions, which have no basis in scientific data.

While we appreciate the Government support that has been given via the Cultural Recovery Fund, this is a huge step backwards in the Government’s stated commitment to valuing the arts. And so, we are asking Greater Manchester’s MPs to urge the Government to rethink this unjustifiable restriction.

Yours sincerely

Dave Moutrey

Director and CEO