Photo by Mark Waugh / Walk the Plank – Manchester Day Parade
Salford based Outdoor Arts company Walk the Plank has received support from the Government Culture Recovery Fund.
This comes after the coronavirus pandemic had left the company in limbo, like many others within the arts sector.
Walk the Plank had been trying to maintain their premises in Salford, and pay the wages of as many staff as possible. They had also been trying to support freelancers, and give them opportunities to work.
Executive Director Charlie Morrison said: “Work that was planned for this year and next year well into 2021, has been pulled from under our feet really.
“For us, the recovery fund is very much about survival.
“It has plugged the gaps for us, financial gaps, to help us get to the end of March 2021, which is amazing.
“It really helps us to stabilise, and helps us to stay open, so we can put effort into adjusting and adapting to try and rebuild our work and projects.”
So pleased to announce that we've received support from the government’s #CultureRecoveryFund
This crucial investment will enable us to continue to bring spectacle to public spaces & reach people through #outdoorarts
— Walk the Plank (@walktheplank) October 17, 2020
However, many in the arts sector have complained about the government’s response in terms of their support for workers in the arts.
Morrison also explained his worries for arts freelancers and the lack of support they are receiving.
“We rely on our freelance workforce which if full of talent and different skills who aren’t benefitting as directly as we are.
“These are people who have worked all their lives, trained all their lives. They are at the top of their game, and they are highly skilled individuals who need to be supported.
“Because when the arts come back, and we start to animate our city centers and animate our communities, we need those people to be in the sector. We don’t want them to have retrained and left to do something else.”
The arts sector has been a major talking point recently, after a government advertisement featuring a ballerina with the tagline “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber. (she just doesn’t know it yet)” caused outrage on social media.
Morrison explained why he thought there was so much outrage over the campaign.
“I do think there has been some offence taken by that campaign, and the media coverage of it, by people who have dedicated their lives to this sector.
“I can see why people are upset, as people dedicate their lives to this sector. There are choices made by people to make this their career and make it their sector because it’s a very rewarding and important sector to work in.
“The arts are a really important part of life, from small groups in communities, to big events and huge public celebrations, which are ready to animate public spaces again once they are able to.
“It is absolutely essential that they are supported to do that.”
The Culture Recovery Fund will help organisations in the arts sector like Walk the Plank bring life communities again, but there is still more to be done for freelancers and individuals that work in the sector until March 2021.
As well, many aren’t expecting the pandemic to disappear in April, so there are still many questions about the governments long term plans to keep the arts sector alive.