The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has sent a rallying call to Londoners in this paper today to go out and be entertained. He wants us to go to the theatres, to museums, exhibitions, the Natural History Museum ice-rink — and after that, perhaps, to a museum cafe — in order for these places to remain in business.
The sector has been kept going throughout the pandemic by an enormous injection of government funds; as he reminds us, the £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund included £430 million of support for almost 1,200 organisations in London. But that funding cannot continue. These places need visitors, and that means us. We have to make up for the inevitable shortfall in the numbers of tourists — pre-Covid, more than 21 million came to London.
Some people will be nervous about returning to theatres and museums but the Government’s ambitious pilot project has established that these places can function safely, especially if a great proportion of visitors are double-jabbed. It’s safe to return to our old haunts. There is, even now, so much to see — new plays, new exhibitions, including many held over from earlier in the year: the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is going to be an autumn affair. It’s our duty as Londoners to go out and enjoy ourselves.