By Luke Edwards.

The co-director of the North Wall Arts Centre has called for greater support from the Government to help the arts survive the pandemic.

While funding from the treasury, totalling £1.57bn, has just started to be rolled out across the country, Ria Parry has warned that gaps in the coverage remain.

“We weren’t eligible to apply for the (arts) funding,” she explained, “and there’s been a delay for those organisations that did apply in getting their response.”

Read also: 'Older people need to use their common sense and stay at home' says Oxford student

The North Wall has now been able to reopen, but is operating with reduced hours and with a reduced capacity.

In normal times, the theatre would have held 191 spectators, but this number has been reduced to between 48-96 seats, depending on bookings.

“We’re not going to make an enormous amount of money over Christmas, and we’re looking at a different financial model, but we are in a lucky position of being able to reopen this year. This means that we can focus this year on reconnecting with our community.”

On top of this, capacity in the centre’s gallery space has also had to be reduced, from around 30 to just eight, to meet Covid guidelines.

Read also: Crash driver pleads with judge - 'Don't jail me, I've met someone'

Ms Parry said: “We are still engaging with the prospect of operating at reduced capacity even through Spring, but we hoped that from January we’d be back to full capacity.

“Financially, we’re incredibly lucky in that we’ve been able to secure funding for our core staffing and building costs, for the next year.

Oxford Mail:

“Where we’re suffering, as per the whole sector, is that much of our income comes from ticket sales.

“If we can go back to full capacity, that means we can do more: more shows, more events, more workshops.

“We do have these things planned, but we’re having to look after them in a sustainable way.”

Ms Parry believes the restrictions on mass gatherings are financially impacting theatres nationwide.

“Many theatres are reopening without it being financially viable in the hope and the assumption that the situation will change to a financially viable one come 2021. If that doesn’t happen, we need sector-specific support to make sure these amazing institutions are still here in a year’s time.

Read also: Russians claim that Oxford Covid vaccine will turn people into chimpanzees

“It was a massive wake up call to everyone when Cineworld announced their closures.

“I hope it’s not going to take hundreds of venues also announcing they’re closing for the Government to realise that the support needs to be given now, not in a year’s time, because the industry will be changed beyond recognition and will never recover in the same way.”

She also expressed support for freelancers who make up 70 per cent of the sector and do not yet have targeted support.

“If these freelancers disappear, then by the time we are rebuilding there will be no one to light shows, provide equipment, to do all the jobs that need doing on a freelance basis.

“Government investment needs to happen before it’s too late.”