COVID-hit UK arts groups welcome government cash infusion

Theatre workers protest outside the National Theatre, against the mass redundancies of low-paid art jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak, in London on Aug. 1. The British government on Monday Oct. 12, 2020, announced grants of $335 million to help almost 1,400 arts and cultural organizations survive the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-hit UK arts groups welcome government cash infusion

LONDON (AP) — The British government on Monday announced grants of 257 million pounds ($335 million) to help almost 1,400 arts and cultural organizations survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The money — the first chunk to be spent from a 1.57-billion-pound Culture Recovery Fund — was welcomed by arts organizations that have accused the government of neglecting them while supporting other businesses.

But just after the announcement, the government was forced to withdraw an advertisement that appeared to suggest ballet dancers should retrain for jobs in cybersecurity.

Recipients of the government funding include major organizations such as the London Symphony Orchestra, which received 846,000 pounds, and tiny venues such as London’s 50-seat Finborough Theatre, which got just under 60,000 pounds. Liverpool’s Cavern Club, where The Beatles shot to fame, received a grant of 525,000 pounds.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement that the money was “a vital boost for the theaters, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation.”

Julian Bird, chief executive of umbrella body U.K. Theatre, said the news was “warmly welcomed, and will help create work and retain jobs.”

Britain’s museums, galleries, theaters and music venues all closed when the country went into lockdown in March. Some have managed to reopen, with reduced capacity and at a financial loss, but coronavirus restrictions make most live performances impossible.

Thousands of arts workers also have not been supported by government job-retention programs because they are freelancers.

Many felt slighted when Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said the government would protect jobs that were “viable,” though Sunak denied he was suggesting jobs in the arts were unviable.

Some in the arts world expressed further outrage on Monday about a government-backed ad showing a young dancer lacing up her ballet pumps alongside the words “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber. (She just doesn’t know it yet).”

The government said the ad was part of a long-running campaign encouraging young people from a variety of backgrounds to consider careers in cybersecurity. But Dowden acknowledged it appeared “crass.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, said “this particular piece of content was not appropriate and has been removed from the campaign.”

Torlonia Collection of ancient marbles displayed in Rome

ROME (AP) — One of the most important private collections of ancient Greek and Roman marble sculptures is going on display in Rome as part of the Eternal City’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

The 90 works from the Torlonia Collection were opening Monday in the newly refurbished Villa Caffarelli, one of the Capitoline Museum’s exhibition spaces overlooking the ancient Roman Forum. Organizers said there were plans to offer to lend the works to other museums, but said the coronavirus pandemic had put those plans on hold for now.

The 620-piece Torlonia Collection is considered one of the greatest private collections of classical art, featuring marble busts, reliefs, sarcophagi and statues. It was begun by one of Rome’s 19th century patricians, Prince Alessandro Torlonia, and was created in part from archaeological excavations of the Torlonia family’s various estates in Rome.

The selections presented in the new exhibit recount the history of the collection’s growth itself and include the 1884 catalogue the prince commissioned to show off his collection when he opened his own museum to house it.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini told a press conference Monday that it was unfortunate that COVID-19 restrictions would limit the number of people who can visit as well as the show’s near-term lending prospects. But he said the works “take your breath away.”

Yankees broadcaster missed playoffs with COVID-19

NEW YORK (AP) — YES Network broadcaster Jack Curry missed the New York Yankees’ postseason after contracting COVID-19.

Curry tweeted a video on Sunday and said he had recovered and would have returned to work for the AL Championship Series starting Sunday had the Yankees advanced.

Curry said he tested positive following the regular season, which ended Sept. 27.

“It was a scary and surreal time, but I’m happy to report that I’m feeling a lot better,” he said.

Curry, 55, has been with the YES Network since 2010 and is a regular on YES pregame and postgame studio shows wrapping around Yankees broadcasts. He was a reporter for The New York Times from 1987-2009.

“I took all of the precautious plus 100 more and this virus still found me,” he said.