What does the future hold for the performing arts sector following the coronavirus pandemic? Actress Juliet Stevenson and more discuss the topic as part of the Cambridge Literary Festival’s Winter Festival online.

Juliet Stevenson. Picture: Benjamin EalovegaJuliet Stevenson. Picture: Benjamin Ealovega

With the country in its second national lockdown, how can the performing arts and cultural events survive the restrictions COVID has imposed?

What impact will this have on the army of now unemployed freelancers as well as young people seeking careers in the arts?

These questions and more are discussed in an important conversation, ‘Covid and Culture: How will the Arts Survive?’, available to view online until November 29 on the Cambridge Literary Festival website as part of its Winter Festival events.

Held in partnership with Stratford Literary Festival, this free conversation is between acclaimed actress Juliet Stevenson CBE, screen and theatre director Sir Richard Eyre CBE, and composer Shirley J Thompson OBE.

Cambridge Literary Festival director Cathy Moore. Picture: Martin BondCambridge Literary Festival director Cathy Moore. Picture: Martin Bond

The discussion is chaired by journalist and writer Julia Wheeler.

In July, the Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report entitled ‘COVID-19 and the career prospects of young people’ which concluded: “The COVID-19 pandemic has severely dented the career prospects of young people and threatens to have a prolonged negative economic impact on them as a result.

“Sharp contractions in shutdown sectors will make it harder for young people to take their first step onto the career ladder, while reduced job opportunities will make it harder for them to move into higher-paying occupations.”

Stevenson, Eyre and Thompson are perfectly placed to discuss these issues with their in-depth experience of theatre, screen and music.

Richard Eyre. Picture: Catherine Ashmore, supplied by Cambridge Literary FestivalRichard Eyre. Picture: Catherine Ashmore, supplied by Cambridge Literary Festival

A literary festival platform is the ideal one for this talk.

“Unlike the rest of the cultural sector, literary events have been able to adapt more easily to the current circumstances by running our events online,” says Cambridge Literary Festival director Cathy Moore.

“And, although we miss our live events, we are keen to keep our conversations going and use this expanded platform to highlight the struggles of other sectors.

“We all need to work together.”

Shirley J Thompson added: “The effects of COVID have hit the world of entertainment and the creative industries more than any other sector.

“Without evidence of an end to this situation in sight, we need to develop strategies to sustain our arts and livelihoods, and importantly, inspire the next generation of artists.”

Visit cambridgeliteraryfestival.com to watch the discussion as part of the Winter Festival Online.