London mayor welcomes financial lifeline for theaters, arts sector amid coronavirus crisis

London mayor Sadiq Khan on Monday welcomed the British government’s 1.57-billion-pound (1.96-billion-U.S. dollar) rescue package for the cultural and creative sector hit heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic.

National museums and galleries in London, as well as the capital’s world famous West End theater district are among the biggest tourist attractions in London.

Khan said without the government’s help, the sector in the British capital stood to lose 151,000 jobs, and could cost the London economy more than 16.3 billion pounds (about 20.4 billion U.S. dollars).

Thousands of organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theaters, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access the emergency grants and loans, said the British government in a statement published Sunday.

However, Khan warned that all aspects of culture and the creative industries will need access to the support due to the widespread impact of COVID-19.

“Sadly, not everyone is going to be able to survive and not every job is going to be protected and sadly, I will have to be honest with you, of course we will see further redundancies,” he said.

City Hall said the majority of London’s culture and creative industries have completely closed down because of COVID-19, with theaters, music venues and performance spaces shutting their doors.

As well as impacting on the venues and their staff, shutdown is hitting a huge range of businesses behind the scenes, from lighting and audio-visual firms and set designers, to textile wholesalers and prop hire.

“London’s creative and cultural sector led the world before the pandemic and will play a vital role in our economic and social recovery, but it is essential that the government support the whole cast, not just the headline acts,” Khan said.