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Coronavirus: £400m for R&D projects as arts sector return outlined | Politics News

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Seven research and innovation projects are receiving more than £400m in government funding.

Businesses and universities in places including Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff and Kent are set to benefit, taking forward projects such as zero-emissions technology for maritime vessels, smart-packaging to cut food waste, and new health products to combat infections.

Ministers said each programme will deliver long-term economic benefits, creating thousands of jobs and encouraging more competitive and future-proof industries as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

A closed sign on the door of an Anytime Fitness gym in Grantham, Lincolnshire as the UK continues in lockdown
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Some parts of the economy are opening up as lockdown eases

The projects include:

  • £114m for a consortium led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
  • £55m for a consortium led by the University of Edinburgh
  • £46m for a consortium led by the University of Bristol

A five-stage plan that could see the return of the performing arts has also been unveiled.

The first two stages of the plan are already in place: Allowing rehearsals to resume with no audience present and giving the go-ahead to recorded performances, provided social distancing rules are being followed.

Classical Theatre
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Mr Dowden doesn’t want the arts sector closed ‘longer than is absolutely necessary’

Stage three will see outdoor performances with socially-distanced spectators, as well as pilots for indoor performances with a limited crowd.

The fourth stage of the plan allows for performances to take place inside with a limited, socially distanced audience.

The final stage will see performances permitted both indoors and outdoors, with more people allowed to watch.

Kate Varah, executive director of the Old Vic theatre in London, said she welcomes the “clarity and information” but added: “If we had some timelines that would be brilliant, because we can then start to plan our businesses around those rough dates.”

Julian Bird, CEO of UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre, said there needed to be “no earlier than” dates for stages three to five.

“Otherwise with no information at all, theatres and producers will have to assume a worst-case scenario and plan to be shut for a long period,” he cautioned.

“With the rest of the economy now reopening quickly, we firmly believe that with the right safety processes in place, we can get back to full audiences in theatres within months – we now need the government to confirm this.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We know the challenges – theatres must be full to make money, and performers need to be safe on stage as they sing, dance and play instruments.

“But I am determined to ensure the performing arts do not stay closed longer than is absolutely necessary to protect public health.”

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