THE SCOTTISH Government has announced a £10m "lifeline" fund to help the country's struggling theatres. 

The sector has been badly hit by coronavirus, with all performing arts venues forced to close their doors and cancel all their booked events when Scotland went into lockdown back in March.

The Lyceum in Edinburgh, Perth’s Horsecross Arts, and the Pitlochry Theatre have all warned of job losses.

And it's not just the staff on the books who face an uncertain future. With no shows being programmed, there’s no work for the actors, choreographers, directors, sound engineers, stage managers, and thousands of other freelancers who make their living working in the industry.

Speaking at the Scottish Government's daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, the Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, said she was determined not to let the sector go under.

The Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund will be run by Creative Scotland, and aims to "remove the threat of insolvency" for theatres "prior to the end of March 2021". 

It's also to allow for specialist and core staff to return from furlough and avoid redundancy.

The government also want to see the fund "increase the opportunities for commissioning and employment of freelance artists and creative practitioners." 

Hyslop said the that by closing back in March, the country's performing arts venues had undoubtably help saved lives.

She said: "Theatres and performing arts venues and the talented freelancers who work with them are an essential part of the fabric of Scotland’s culture and communities and promote our international reputation, and we are determined that they will survive and be able to thrive again.

“We reacted quickly to help culture and the creative industries from the earliest days of this pandemic, including through the £120m Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, which is unique to Scotland. This new fund is the next step.

“Our performing arts venues effectively had to close overnight, with an almost complete loss of income. There is no doubt that in doing so they saved lives, and for that I am extremely grateful.

“As we navigate our way through the pandemic, we know physical distancing is vital to ensuring that we do not see a second wave of infections, but we recognise the difficulties this presents for those in performing arts. This dedicated fund will be a vital lifeline to help performing arts venues continue to weather the storm. We are also actively considering support for grassroots music venues.

“We know the impact of this crisis will be long-term so ambitious action to support the future of these organisations, as well as our wider cultural infrastructure, is vital.

“We will continue to urge the UK Government to use their fiscal levers, such as significant borrowing powers, to back culture and creative industries with major investment. This will enable the Scottish Government to offer even more support to respond to this crisis and build for the future.”

However, there was scepticism from the Scottish Greens, who said the fund would not go far. 

The party’s culture spokesperson Ross Greer said: “This funding is very welcome, but it will only buy venues more time, not prevent their closure entirely. 

"Theatres and venues of all sizes in almost every community in Scotland have been devastated by this crisis and face an uncertain future while social distancing continues. We risk a post-Covid normal with cultural deserts across much of Scotland if venues close on the scale we’re currently facing.

“£10m will buy venues and their staff time, which is vital with so many jobs on the line and the furlough scheme being wound down later this year but with the number of venues now in crisis, this amount will not go far.

“The UK Government has done embarrassingly little to protect the arts during the pandemic compared with other countries. There is widespread international recognition that education, health and culture are key to wellbeing, but the latter has been largely ignored by the Conservatives so far, despite making up a huge share of our economy. If Scotland is going to take a different approach we need to step up, quickly.”