Why the Sunderland Empire was lit up in red light last night

The lights may have been out at the Empire for three months, but last night, July 6, its landmark tower was lit red in a show of solidarity with the arts.

Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 1:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 1:31 pm
The Empire lit in red. Photo by Andrew Greenshields.

The theatre in High Street West took part in the Light It In Red initiative to highlight the struggles being faced by the arts industry.

It comes as the culture sector has been hit incredibly hard by the social distancing measure in place to limit the spread of the virus, with many venues across the country on the brink of collapse.

After mounting pressure, the Government this week announced a £1.57bn emergency support package to help protect the future of theatres, galleries and museums aimed at helping to preserve the ‘crown jewels’ of the arts.

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Mark Cornell, group chief executive at Ambassador Theatre Group, which operates Sunderland Empire, has welcomed the news.

He said: “I am thrilled to see the government intervene in such a decisive fashion to protect our nation’s cultural capital. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Treasury and DCMS have demonstrated their significant commitment to the arts.

“The Job Retention Scheme was a major supporting initiative, and this substantial financial package is another key milestone. No doubt this will give institutions across the arts, culture and heritage sector a welcome shot of confidence.”

He added: “It is essential that these funds are made available to all areas across the cultural ecosystem, from the subsidised sector to independent contractors, artists, producers, technicians and venue operators.

“This is an important step towards securing the future of Britain’s cultural life and I’m very grateful to the Secretary of State and his team for their determination and perseverance in bringing this about. We now need to unite to restore audience confidence and work in close partnership with the health authorities to remount British theatre as soon as is appropriately possible.”

There is no news yet on when the Empire may open its doors, but all shows have been suspended until Sunday, August 2.

Affected customers are being contacted by email with an offer to exchange tickets to a future performance; or a full credit voucher.

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