With the UK cultural sector benefiting from a £1.57bn support fund, the Bingo Association has called on DCMS to provide similar support to bingo clubs, noting the industry’s significant economic, cultural and community impact.
The Bingo Association has launched a campaign calling for the government to extend cultural support funding to the bingo industry to help it survive up to and beyond 17 May, noting the sector is “a great British working-class pastime.”
With cinemas, theatres and museums able to claim a share of the £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund, the trade body has urged DCMS to give bingo clubs similar support through a petition which attracted 5,000 signatures in its first 48 hours.
“Bingo clubs have been entertaining a largely working class, female, demographic since the 1960s and contributes significantly not only to our local economy, but also to our local communities where they provide a social activity which contributes significantly to combating the social isolation of many of our customers,” said BA CEO Miles Baron.
“It is therefore extremely difficult to explain to our valued customers, and our employees, why their pastime and job is seemingly of less importance than other cultural venues, many of whom have received significant funding from DCMS. All we are asking is that the government levels the playing field.”
Bingo clubs have been one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic, with venues having to remain closed until 17 May at the earliest due to government covid restrictions.
While Arts Council England, the Heritage Fund, Historic England, and the British Film Institute have all benefited from the government’s cultural support package, 39 bingo clubs, equivalent to 15 percent of the total pre-pandemic, have had to close their doors for good across the country since March 2020.
“Making it through to reopening on 17 May will be a challenge for our bingo club,” said Dave Robson, operations director of BJs Bingo Club in Leigh. “Bingo is an absolute lifeline for so many of our customers, who have experienced real loneliness through the pandemic, it provides them with a safe space to socialise.”
“It would be devastating for our local area if we couldn’t be there for them come the 17 May. I don’t understand why the government has decided that one form of entertainment is more important to save than another.”