Tim Burgess writes to Rishi Sunak: Other countries have “found a way” to support arts workers

"The worry is that the next generation of performers will come only from certain sections of society"

Tim Burgess has written an open letter to Rishi Sunak to argue for stronger support for arts workers in Britain.

The Charlatans frontman and solo artist sent a note to the Chancellor of the Exchequer today (October 8) to counter implications made by Sunak to ITV News that people working in the arts and other industries will have to look for “fresh” employment opportunities to weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an open letter published by The Guardian, Burgess accused the Chancellor of “rebranding the arts sector as some sort of luxurious, decadent hobby”. He also suggested Sunak isn’t properly aware that artists from all sectors “have been working other jobs for years” anyway to make ends meet.

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Rishi Sunak
Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak. CREDIT: Matt Dunham – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Burgess wrote: “Live music was the final place where most bands could still earn enough to follow their dream. And six months ago that disappeared, with no return in sight. An entire summer of music festivals cancelled, along with the worlds of standup comedy, West End theatres and touring shows – all gone.

“The worry is that the next generation of performers will come only from certain sections of society.”

Burgess further drilled the rhetoric, arguing that the artwork creatives produce is a lifeline for many. “Other countries have found a way to protect their citizens who work in the arts world – and when we somehow get back to a version of normal, won’t it be the bands, the musicals and the plays that provide an escape? Just as books and music have been a beacon of light in the darkness of lockdown.”

The singer’s comments come after musicians bemoaned the government’s response to the latest threats to creative workers’ livelihoods, and as cinema chains including Cineworld confirm the temporary shutdown of theatres in order to avoid bankruptcy.

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Liam Gallagher and Johnny Marr were among the artists decrying Sunak’s comments. Gallagher said: “This country would be beyond wank if it wasn’t for the arts and the music and football”, while Marr called Sunak a “moron” for not recognising how crucial entertainment is for people’s wellbeing in a time of crisis.

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