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Arlene Phillips joins protest to draw attention to plight of performing arts

Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
·2 min read

Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips has joined protesters calling for more funding for the performing arts.

The acclaimed choreographer was joined by dancers, including little girls in tutus, to raise awareness about the plight of the live events industry and the workers at risk of losing their jobs.

A series of socially-distant creative performances are taking place every day this week in Parliament Square to call for more support for the arts.

Coronavirus – Mon Oct 26, 2020
Arlene Phillips (left) joins dancers (Luciana Guerra/PA)

The Government has announced a £1.57 billion culture recovery fund and it was recently revealed that 35 organisations – including Shakespeare’s Globe, Sadler’s Wells and the Old Vic theatre – will receive between £1 million and £3 million from the package.

However, freelancers have said their livelihoods are still at risk and they may not benefit from the fund.

Phillips said: “Everyone in the performing arts is suffering from a loss of income, loss of respect, loss of performing, and most of all, the loss of the understanding that dance is a passion turned into a career only by years of punishing study harder than most athletes.

Coronavirus – Mon Oct 26, 2020
Arlene Phillips (Luciana Guerra/PA)

“Members from the industry are now being advised to change careers. Dance is my life, and it’s hard to watch as sharp, intelligent dancers are being rejected for a number of retail or support jobs as they are not considered to have the right skills. Dancers are everything.”

Debbie Moore, founder of Pineapple Dance Studios, added: “Over 40 years ago I opened Pineapple to provide a home in Covent Garden for dancers both amateur and professional from all over the world, providing dancers for the global dance industry and musical theatre which is a huge contributor to our economy, yet without support the dancers cannot continue to train and therefore in turn contribute to the economy.”

The Survival In The Square events will also see comedians, singers, actors and opera singers stage protests.

Gary White, lead producer from organiser #WeMakeEvents, said: “The latest Government support packages, although welcome, are not reaching the majority of those who need them the most and will only benefit a small group. Larger, more meaningful action needs to be taken.

“With Survival in the Square, we truly want to showcase the diversity of performance and just how far the live events industry stretches.

“We want to display to Parliament the spectrum of skills and talent involved within live events. These cross over into the hospitality sector, yet aren’t eligible for any of the hospitality funds recently announced by the Government.

“We need to ensure the Government realises what we bring to the UK economically and culturally. We will be a good return on investment for the future, and that we will continue to campaign until there is sufficient support for everyone involved in our industry.”