23 August 2020

Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle in plea for funding to save comedy venues

23 August 2020

Kevin Bridges, Frankie Boyle and Fred MacAulay are among a group of performers calling on the Scottish Government to provide emergency funding to help Scotland’s comedy scene survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

Signatories of a letter, who also include Janey Godley, Jo Caulfield and Des McLean, warned the sector is “at breaking point” as they urged ministers and bosses at the arts agency Creative Scotland to commit cash to help keep venues afloat.

The letter, sent by the Association of Scottish Comedic Arts, said help has been provided to the grassroots music industry, after lockdown forced the closure of venues across the country.

But it added that despite a plea to ministers in July for financial support for the comedy sector, no cash has been announced.

The letter is also signed by key industry figures including Mike Jones, managing director of The Stand comedy club in Edinburgh, and Karen and Katy Coren – the artistic directors of the  city’s Gilded Balloon venue.

They said: “We ask that the recognition of the importance of grassroots music venues in Scotland’s cultural landscape be extended to grassroots comedy venues, including the financial support these dedicated music venues have already received.

“Scotland’s dedicated comedy venues have a long history of providing grassroots support. Without them household names like Kevin Bridges, Daniel Sloss, Frankie Boyle, Danny Bhoy, Fern Brady, Susan Calman, Fred MacAulay, Greg McHugh and Larry Dean would have struggled to develop their craft.”

They said the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland must provide either a “sector-specific package” for comedy in the coming weeks – or ring-fenced cash as part of larger support.

They warned: “If this is not secured, many clubs, venues, producers, promoters and performers will be lost forever and the Scottish arts scene will be poorer for it.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We do not underestimate the devastating impact this pandemic has had on Scotland’s diverse culture sector, particularly those who rely on audiences and live performances.

“That is why, from the outset, we have worked quickly to provide a wide range of significant financial support, including grants for self-employed people through the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund and the Creative, Tourism and Hospitality Hardship Fund.

“There are a number of comedy venues which have received support.

“We know that there is still need for support, particularly in those sectors which cannot yet reopen fully.

“We are considering how best to support those sectors, and have been speaking with the Scottish Live Comedy Association to understand their needs.”

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