Comedy clubs take their plea for emergency arts funding seriously


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“I don’t think there will be an industry to return to,” says Kiri Pritchard-McLean

Comedy clubs have requested £ 1.5 billion in emergency funding from the government for the arts, with a warning that hundreds of people may be closed in the next year.

The comedy was not mentioned when the government announced its arts bailout on Sunday.

Half of the clubs that participated in a Live Comedy Association survey said they would definitely face a permanent closure without financial support.

President Brid Kirby said small halls are “the foundation of the whole industry”.

She told BBC News, “All of the household names will have started in these clubs. The risk of these clubs disappearing therefore runs the risk of losing a whole new generation of industry voices.”

  • Emergency money for culture “won’t save every job”
  • Arts industry receives £ 1.57 billion in support

The association interviewed more than 660 people working in comedy, from venue owners and standing artists to producers and publicists, about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. He found:

  • 49.2% of sites think that they will definitely face a final closure without additional funding or support
  • 45% of workers seriously thought of quitting comedy
  • 24% started working outside of comedy
  • 28% were not eligible for government assistance, despite the need for support
  • 73.5% found their mental health negatively affected by job uncertainty

There are 600 comedy clubs in the UK, according to the association. Kirby said: “We need live comedy to be included in the distribution of this £ 1.57 billion.

“The current concern is that, as we have a long history of being overlooked as an art form [for funding], we are really concerned that we will not see the comedy in the press release and whether we will be included once the details are announced. “

Kirby met with officials from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), who told him that there was no reason for comedy to be actively excluded but that they were awaiting directions she said.

A DCMS spokesperson told BBC News: “This week we announced the largest one-time investment ever made in British culture to help the industry weather the coronavirus pandemic. Will be defined in the coming weeks.”

Speaking Tuesday at the BBC breakfast, actress Shazia Mirza said that small clubs are essential for all artists who continue to play in larger halls or play on television.

“We have been ignored because no money is injected into these little clubs,” she said.


Mark Watson said UK live comedy scene is “the best and most dynamic in the world”

Another stand-up, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, warned: “I don’t think there will be an industry to go back to. The people who give this money don’t understand how the industry works, especially comedy .

“We have one of the best comedy circuits in the world because we have so many brilliant comedy clubs, which means you can play several times a night and really good at what you do.

“If these institutions are not helped … then that disappears and we stop being world leaders in this area.”

In a statement, comedian Mark Watson said that the UK live comedy scene is “the best and most vibrant in the world” and “produces work on a fraction of the budgets enjoyed by theater, opera or any something else”.

He added: “Any rescue plan for the performing arts must include it.”

The government said grants and loans would be available for “the performing arts and theaters, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema.”

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