The Public Campaign for the Arts has launched a major new online platform, creating an unprecedented support link between UK citizens and their cultural organisations.
The Arts Map, available now at CampaignForTheArts.org, enables anyone to find and support arts companies near them. It was funded entirely by small donations from over a thousand members of the public.
All UK arts organisations are invited to add themselves to the Map, and to share updates as they try to recover from the impacts of Covid-19. Users can search the Map by their postcode; check the status of local companies; send messages of support by video, audio or written text; and offer financial support by making a donation.
The Map offers a real-time, national and local picture of arts organisations’ recovery status. Over time, as stories and messages are added, it will prove the value of the arts to people and places across the UK.
At the point of launch, it shows that social distancing continues to present major challenges for arts companies to operate sustainably. Only 5% have been able to reopen, with 78% still closed and 17% operating with limited activities.1 According to a recent report by MPs on the cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, social distancing means that only 30-35% of seats can be sold in venues that typically need to sell 70-80% to break even.2
These ongoing impacts of Covid-19 mean that the survival of the UK’s globally-renowned arts industry is still not secure, despite the Government’s unprecedented investment of £1.57bn in the cultural and heritage sectors. The theatre industry alone has lost as much as £600m of box office revenue since venues were ordered to close on 20 March.3 Before Covid-19, the cultural sector generated £32.3billion a year for the UK economy.4
Jack Gamble, Lead Organiser of the Public Campaign for the Arts, says:
“The Arts Map shows the vital place of arts organisations at the heart of villages, towns and cities across our country. They enliven our High Streets, boost our wellbeing and activate creativity in our communities. They can offer crucial support as we recover from the impacts of Covid-19. Through the Arts Map, we can support them too.”
The Arts Map has launched with data from the Theatre Search project, created by Spun Glass Theatre. Artistic Director Jessica Cheetham says:
“I am very pleased to be partnering with the Public Campaign for the Arts on their fantastic Arts Map. It’s exciting to see the information Spun Glass Theatre has gathered for Theatre Search being used in such a striking way to demonstrate what is happening to the landscape of performance venues and festivals across the UK. The Arts Map and the testimonials from people local to venues under threat will be such a positive force for change. I urge you to share your memories and help save these vital organisations.”
Alongside the Arts Map, the Public Campaign for the Arts has launched a petition, calling on the Government to support the arts in every community in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.