AT the end of the month I'll be able to go to the cinema and hurrah for that. Movies are a much missed weekly treat.

But I won't be able to go to the theatre. My tickets for Scottish Ballet's Swan Lake remain up in the air. The May performance was postponed until September and now has been postponed again until next spring.

As lockdown eases there will be many seemingly baffling decisions made over what is safe for the public and what is not. One might sit on an aeroplane for several hours next to a stranger but not visit an art gallery in limited numbers at a distance from other visitors.

One can see a film in a movie theatre but not a play in a theatre. For those in the struggling arts sector, exact answers about when they will be allowed to welcome audiences again are critical.

In June, Westminster's culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced a road map for the reopening of performing arts venues, a five-stage plan leading up to indoor shows – but the plan was soon revealed to be a turkey. It gave no specifics of target dates and, crucially, no suggestion of financial assistance.

Now, finally, the UK and Scottish governments have announced funding packages that will support the arts: museums, theatres, galleries and heritage venues. From the Scottish Government, £10 million, and from Westminster a pledge of £1.57 billion, of which £97m will come to Scotland.

Why on earth has it taken so long? Britain's arts sector was demolished practically overnight when lockdown began in March. A vastly profitable sector, contributing £32.3bn to the economy last year.

I mention money first because we are in straightened times under a UK Government influenced by lobbyists who prioritise banks, big business, airlines and even Wetherspoons over the arts.

While it makes keen economic sense to support a sector that employs hundreds of thousands of people, it makes sense in far more than pure economic terms.

Mr Dowden, speaking yesterday on the Today Programme, said the lifeline money was to "save the crown jewels" of the industry, such as the Albert Hall, which has said it could go bust next year without support. The money is also, the politician said, to support grassroots organisations.

We have seen huge adaptability during the crisis. From National Theatre of Scotland's online one-person plays, Scenes for Survival, to Big Noise Govanhill using a local funding grant to provide children in the community, where poverty levels are high, with electronic devices that allow them to stay connected with friends and education.

Ensuring a robust future for the arts isn't about ensuring those with ample disposable income can still have a nice night out. It is about shoring up an industry that transforms lives at every economic level in society: improving education outcomes; boosting mental health; forging and maintaining relationships; and, yes, at a basic but still vital level, simply supplying joy.

The arts sector has had to shout long and shout loud to finally, three months down the line, receive this government support.

It comes too late for some. The National Theatre has made 400 workers redundant. In Newcastle the Theatre Royal has lost half its workforce. The Theatre Royal in Plymouth said more detail of the government funding scheme is needed before it can say whether 100 jobs there can be saved.

So many of the sector are freelance workers, already subject to shaky employment prospects, who can't be furloughed and who often aren't entitled to the self-employed income support scheme.

Our European neighbours have always given greater support to their arts industries than the UK so the comparison is a little unfair. However, France, in May, announced a national unemployment plan to run until August 2021 to support arts workers who had lost their jobs or couldn't find work.

Germany's regions had already supplied support to its culture sector but the German government, on top of that, announced a 1bn euro fund last month. We have lagged behind at a high cost.

While there will be a sense of relief that this funding package has been announced at last, following careful and targeted lobbying from the sector, there can't be delays in detailing how the money will be allocated and where.

As well as reaching grass roots organisations, this money must filter down to the freelance workers who make the sector viable. And there needs to be a clear timeline – of course subject to change depending on the virus progression – of when audiences might return to indoor performances.

Our arts scene is precious beyond value; there can be no more delays in protecting this vital national asset.

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