‘Conversations are ongoing about further support’: little clarity from government on arts recovery4:33, 25th June 2020
Today, Parliament debated petitions that called on the government for further support for the sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis, including music and theatre.
Chief among concerns were the threats to grassroots venues and to the livelihoods of freelancers – many of whom have fallen through the gaps in the government’s existing financial support schemes.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: ‘We lead the way nationally in widening the access to the arts … Failing to support the creative industries puts 16,000 jobs at risk [in Brighton] alone.
‘The consequences for the UK as a whole will be equally devastating, including for our sense of identity as a nation, which is inextricably bound up with cultural innovation, from Chaucer to Banksy.’
Nigel Huddleston MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, asserted that the ‘government has provided an unprecedented level of wide-ranging financial support … to protect jobs and incomes across the country’, referring to the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.
On the matter of restoring the hardest hit industries post-lockdown, he said: ‘Working groups have been set up by various departments to work on the path to recovery, and to identify what further support may be required, and discussions with the Treasury are taking place.’
When questioned about additional aid for workers who have fallen through the gaps in existing schemes, he said: ‘Conversations are ongoing about further support.’
Simon Mundy reports from Scotland:
On 23 June the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery reported. The Group was chaired by Benny Higgins, former head of Tesco Bank and Chair of the National Galleries of Scotland. Here is the section devoted to the Creative Sector. The Government is due to announce its formal response in late July.
‘Given the significant contribution of the arts, culture and creative industries to Scotland’s economy and to our social capital, the Scottish Government should take steps to protect the sector; seek to increase public and private investment; and work to create a National Arts Force. The arts, culture and creative industries make an important and growing contribution to Scotland’s economic and social capital. They create high quality, fulfilling jobs, which can be amplified through specialist apprenticeships, skills development and training. And they play an important role in Scotland’s international offering as part of ‘brand Scotland’.
With this in mind, we invited specific input from a group of key leaders from across the sector. We are publishing their paper for the Group alongside our report. The sector has been hit disproportionately hard by the crisis as a consequence of physical distancing requirements. Many parts of the sector are hampered by physical infrastructure – often of significant heritage value – which will be particularly difficult to adapt to new requirements. This will call existing business models into question. A significant proportion of the workforce are either freelance or gig economy workers, who will struggle to find or maintain jobs in the postcrisis period. Yet the sector can play a big part in our recovery, attracting visitors and investment alike once the present restrictions are lifted, and helping to build both confidence and resilience for the future.
The sector is inherently innovative and entrepreneurial, and can be integrated into recovery and development work right across the Towards a Robust, Resilient Wellbeing Economy for Scotland 51 Advisory Group on Economic Recovery 2020 economy, with particular emphasis on health, education, including blended learning, tourism, leisure and overall wellbeing.
Against that background, the sector should be given high priority in Scotland’s recovery plan.’