Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden must be finding the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee and its chair, Julian Knight, a member of his own party no less, a real thorn in his side.
For the most part, the Minister gives the impression of being quite capable of completely ignoring the arts, having offered a derisory £1.57 billion, which was mistakenly accepted by so many without question, and then completely forgotten that any kind of entertainment industry existed.
To date, more money has been spent on providing the populace with cheap food in August than to prop up theatres with much-needed funds to remain afloat through a fallow period that looks likely to be a minimum of a year.
Having said that, Mr Dowden apparently has a rabbit to pull out of the hat connected to pantomimes. Possibly a single outdoor production in Cornwall for a few days during the Christmas holidays?
It has become painfully clear that this government has absolutely no interest in the arts, doesn’t recognise the value that they bring to the country in either spiritual or financial terms and would be perfectly happy if they disappeared off the face of the earth.
However, Mr Knight and his doughty committee will not lie down quietly. The latest salvo is a letter sent directly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, completely bypassing their own minister.
The content of the letter is pithy but potentially valuable, making it very clear that, since over 50% of workers in the arts are currently on furlough, when that scheme finishes at the end of October, there will inevitably be mass redundancies.
As an alternative, very sensibly, the Parliamentary Committee requests a targeted extension of the Job Retention Scheme (the posh name for furlough) for the arts sector.
Rather than putting a time limit on this much-needed resource, the suggestion is that it should continue until the industry is back on its feet, whenever that may be.
This is a wonderful contribution that should be appreciated with the kind of round of standing ovation that none of us is currently able to deliver in theatres.
If there is one criticism, it is that the impassioned appeal does not go far enough. While the theatre will die unless funding is found to keep its employees on the roster, similar support is also required for the vast ranks of the self-employed who are also trying to survive on zero income for an indefinite period.
It would be great to think that Mr Sunak will read the letter and act immediately. That seems pie in the sky, although this government loves its posturing and there must be a strong possibility that some form of targeted extension to the furlough scheme will be announced before the end of October.
The problem is that may still be too late for so many theatres that are on the brink, not to mention the employees, many of whom will presumably be given 30 days’ notice at the beginning of the month.