Leaders and high-profile figures from the UK’s arts and culture scene have come out in support of Covid-status certification measures to get the creative and cultural sectors open again.
The intervention comes amid huge concerns about the viability of the UK’s summer festival season and the return of live music in venues. Research projects are going ahead next month, including at the BRITs.
The government is currently reviewing whether to use vaccine certificates, alongside its existing approach of encouraging lateral-flow tests.
In a letter to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition sent today, the group sound their support for the government’s ambition to return to full-capacity audiences without restrictions as soon as possible, and recognise the role that Covid status certification could play in reducing social distancing.
Music industry figures to sign the letter include UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn (Latitude, Wireless, Reading & Leeds), Andrew Lloyd-Webber and conductor Sir Simon Rattle. They are joined by actors Simon Russell Beale and Ralph Fiennes, Bond producer Barbara Broccoli and theatre director Sir Nicholas Hytner, among others.
Certificates would enable people to show if they have been vaccinated, had a negative test or had natural immunity from a confirmed infection in the previous six months.
The signatories understand that Covid status certification would involve either proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test or an antibody test to allow access to a venue. They are clear that this approach must not rely only on proof of vaccination, must not be discriminatory, and also that it must only be a temporary measure, only used for as long as necessary and with clear exit criteria.
The letter concludes that “if all of this holds true, then we are very much supportive of the continued exploration of this possibility to bring life back to normal as soon as possible”.
The letter is in full below.
Boris Johnson MP
Keir Starmer MP
Ian Blackford MP
Ed Davey MP
Liz Saville-Roberts MP
Letter on Covid status certification (vaccination, testing and antibodies)
We welcome the announcement from the Prime Minister that the Government’s roadmap for easing restrictions remains on course, and that step 2 started as planned on 12 April.
The creative industries are the beating heart of society, providing jobs and entertainment to people of all ages, and we are committed to working with the government to ensure a return to normality across our sectors. The prospect of reopening gives us much hope, as a continuation of restrictions threatens additional financial pressures on the sector.
We strongly support the Government’s ambition to return to full capacity audiences without restrictions as soon as possible, and we recognise that this can be only be achieved through gathering evidence that it is safe to remove or lessen restrictions, including looking at how Covid status certification could aid the reduction of social distancing. We understand that this approach would involve either proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test or an antibody test to allow access to a venue. We are clear that this approach must not rely only on proof of vaccination, and also that it must only be a temporary measure, only used for as long as necessary.
We are also clear that this approach must not be discriminatory, should protect privacy, and have clear exit criteria. If all of this holds true, then we are very much supportive of the continued exploration of this possibility to bring life back to normal as soon as possible.
We look forward to working with the Government and all interested parties, including our stakeholders and audiences.
Adjoa Andoh - Actor
Simon Russell Beale - Actor
Alex Beard - Chief Executive, Royal Opera House
Melvin Benn - Managing Director, Festival Republic
Barbara Broccoli - Film Producer
Sarah Connolly - Opera Singer
Marianne Elliott - Theatre and Film Director
Daniel Evans - Artistic Director, Chichester Festival Theatre
Ralph Fiennes - Actor
Nicholas Hytner - Director, Bridge Theatre
James Graham - Playwright
Kwame Kwei-Armah - Artistic Director, Young Vic
Adrian Lester - Actor
Andrew Lloyd Webber - Composer and Producer
Lesley Manville - Actor
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin - Chief Executive, UK Music
Simon Rattle - Conductor, Music Director London Symphony Orchestra
Tamara Rojo - Artistic Director, English National Ballet
Tom Stoppard - Playwright
Meera Syal - Actor