The actors’ union has called for urgent action to stop a drain of talent from the sector as venues remain shut and theatres and TV productions are cancelled.
Fears of an exodus of talent have risen since Chancellor Rishi Sunak suggested people working in arts and culture should consider retraining after the pandemic shut down swathes of their industry.
However, Linda Rifkind, Scottish branch secretary of Equity, said: “I have heard of people being advised to retrain and it is ridiculous. Take away the arts, television, theatre, dancing, take away all of it, and what’s left is a void. What’s happening is a real concern.
“Variety and performance helped get us through World War Two so it is vital we don’t lose this. It’s an important sector – not just for its artistic element but for the economic benefits it brings too. I definitely think there needs to be financial support. In my opinion, you must try to help people.
“So many people now are in isolation and are afraid to go out. They are shopping online. Take away the arts and you are getting to a point where there’s going to be nothing left.”
Iain Gordon, general manager of Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre, said: “I think we will obviously need to do something in the short term. A lot of performers over the years have had other careers or jobs.
“I think to go out there and look for other work is becoming a necessity and will become really common. Certainly, within younger performers there will be a necessity to look at other jobs.
“I think performers will take short-term work. The hope is, when we are out of this, they will be back. I know of one performer who has taken a job as a care worker and is enjoying that.”
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop announced a £10 million targeted funding for arts and culture in July and Creative Scotland, which supports arts and screen industries via Scottish Government and Lottery funding, said millions of pounds in emergency grants had been allocated since lockdown.
A spokeswoman said: “The challenges presented to the culture and creative sector by the pandemic are only too real and are not going to go away quickly or easily. That’s why the series of emergency funding is so important.
“Our priority is the delivery of these funds to the sector as quickly as possible and the launch, last week, of the Hardship Fund for Creative Freelances is another important step in providing much needed financial support.”
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