Oliver Dowden defends his lack of action in helping UK theatres with more inaction

Posted on 1 July 2020

UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has fired back on Twitter in response to criticism on how he has been handling the coronavirus crisis. The only problem with the MP's defence? The whole thing's a load of b***ocks.

Oliver Dowden takes to Twitter to defend his inaction in helping UK arts and theatre

The MP recently responded to comments made by BBC Front Row's John Wilson, who tweeted:

"Conductor @SirSimonRattle tells me @BBCFrontRow that, in recent Zoom meeting with @OliverDowden, it was “very clear” that Culture Secretary believes UK arts are “better & stronger” for NOT having the sort of financial support offered by other European countries." 

Oliver Dowden, (Non-)Culture Secretary, replied with:

Not true. What I said was that arts orgs who have worked hard to increase income from non govt sources should not be penalised for it in this crisis. I understand the seriousness of the situation and am working on it every single day. @BBCFrontRow

The Twitter feud is the latest blow to the Secretary of Culture, as it has cast a spotlight on just how little he has done to help save the arts. The theatre community, in particular, has been campaigning nonstop for financial support from the government with thousands upon thousands of jobs at stake.

Meanwhile, many venues have said they will have to close for good and major venues across the UK, such as Theatre Royal Plymouth, Birmingham Hippodrome, and the National Theatre have already announced that large percentages of their staff are at risk of being terminated in order for them to survive.

Dowden's roadmap essentially "meaningless", says Equity

So far, Dowden has provided no concrete details on when (and how) theatres can reopen as well as no specifics on a possible financial aid package to help rescue the arts. His recently-published roadmap for reopening was labelled "meaningless" by Equity. What's even more devastating is how thousands of freelance workers have no source of income and at the same time are ineligible to take advantage of government support. 

The United Kingdom is the only country in Europe to not receive emergency financial support for the arts sector. Dowden has had three months now to come up with a solution and after "working on it every single day" since theatres closed, all he has to show for it is a list of bullet points that say nothing substantial.

Twitter users take Oliver "Down-den" with a series of brutally honest tweets

People on Twitter expressed their dissatisfaction with the Secretary of Culture in a series of tweets criticising his response to John Wilson and his failure to do what he was sworn to do. Here's but a few of them thusfar:  

"People can fly in a plane but not sit in a theatre? You will lose one of this countries greatest exports. THEATRE" - (@maxdorey)
"What the ‘creative blazers’ are you drinking Oliver? This is your department, start standing up for the UK creative industries.. Stop being a total opaque coward.. What have you ever created? Performed? What instrument do you play? .. over to you!" - (@DeltaSax)
"You better had be. This country has come a long way since being labelled 'Das Land ohne Musik'. You wouldn't want to go down in history as the man who reapplied the label." - (@Strawbmusic)
"We have no support at all from this government that offers only obstacles. On top of that you have ended freedom of movement that cuts us off from the culturally superior EU countries where there is work and funding." - (@lorelixenberg)
"I'd love to have a chat with you, Mr Dowden. I could show you my diary which is empty, save for the crossings out. If you truly understand the seriousness of the situation you'll pull your finger out." - (@JusticeTrousers)


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Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

Ephram is a jack of all trades and enjoys attending theatre, classical music concerts and the opera.