Covid: As Scotland's Culture Secretary, I'm listening to sector about difficulties it faces over lockdown restrictions – Angus Robertson MSP

Arts and culture are a key part of Scottish society and the economy.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been called off for the second year in a row.

Last week I had an online meeting with key culture stakeholders to hear about the challenges for venues and events, orchestras and musicians, actors, artists and the whole arts ecosystem.

The Covid lockdown has had a devastating effect on the sector and, within my first week as new Culture Secretary, I wanted to understand the difficulties by listening to people who work in it.

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The combination of social distancing rules and uncertainty about the lifting of the Covid restrictions make it hugely difficult to plan for events months in advance.

The lack of an insurance scheme backed by the UK government has already meant the cancellation of this year’s Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the risk is increasing that other events will be cancelled.

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As recent weeks have shown, the Covid pandemic is still with us. Tougher restrictions have been necessary in Glasgow, but hopefully they will be eased before the Euro 2020 tournament comes to the city.

More than 6,000 people will be welcomed in the Glasgow Green fanzone from June 11 and a week later 12,000 fans will be at Hampden when Scotland takes on the Czech Republic on June 14.

This raises optimism that we will hopefully soon see a safe opening up of events from sport to the arts. However, with warnings about a potential third wave of the pandemic, we need to be careful and work together to secure the speediest safe return to our new normality.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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