As shops, gyms and other community spaces also start to announce suspended services
Following the government’s advice to avoid public venues, arts sites across Manchester have announced their closure. Galleries, cinemas, museums, theatres, libraries, comedy venues, music venues and other event spaces are all affected in what HOME’s CEO Dave Moutrey said ‘is possibly the greatest challenge our industry has ever faced.'
Despite the chancellor’s announcement to help UK businesses through the coronavirus pandemic with a £350bn package - including loans, grants and initiatives like business tax relief - many arts venues, as with those in hospitality, say it’s not comprehensive or timely enough. While the government is still finalising plans, and bodies such as the Arts Council and GM Culture have outlined their own support packages, many have resorted to temporary fundraising in a bid for survival.
Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery and Jodrell Bank are amongst those affected as their parent Manchester University yesterday suspended all face-to-face teaching. And, while some venues like comedy club Frog & Bucket temporarily installed measures like 50% capacity, decreasing visitor numbers and health obligations mean most have now had to close - many indefinitely and some, including Royal Exchange Theatre and National Football Museum, with tentative April reopening dates.
Speaking to the BBC, HOME’s Dave Moutrey - who ‘continues to pay his 200+ staff until the money runs out' - added: “I'd be surprised if the theatre sector, cinema sector or indeed the visual arts sector survives in its current form.” HOME is one of many organisations to launch relief funds.
It isn’t just arts and culture either, with other recreational outlets also having to suspend service. Barry’s is amongst several gyms to announce closure, while stores are increasingly joining the ranks: US retailers like Urban Outfitters and Apple have already shut up shop, the closure of Selfridge’s from 7pm today is likely to be followed by other UK brands, and indie emporium Afflecks will be closed from 6pm tomorrow.
Here’s looking to more stable times ahead. For now, we can only watch this space.