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Peers voice fears for COVID-19’s “acute impact” on performing arts

28 May 2020

The Communications and Digital Select Committee writes to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP to ask what more the government will do to ease the economic impact of prolonged closures and to enable the safe return of employees.

Background

The Committee believes that current Government advice to avoid large gatherings or those in smaller public spaces but to return to work if unable to work from home is “difficult to apply in the context of the creative industries”.

Lord Gilbert of Panteg, Chair of the Committee, said in a letter to the Culture Secretary:

“The performing arts, museums and galleries, and TV and film production all require groups of people in close proximity. At the same time, they largely require ‘in person’ attendance by workers and performers.

“Consequently, the creative industries will likely be one of the last sectors able to reopen fully.”

The Committee is concerned too that the new Cultural Renewal Taskforce aimed at helping to get the recreation and leisure sector up and running again may have “limited impact” without proper resources.

With seven in 10 artists and craftspeople who support the performing arts being self-employed, the Committee also wants the Government to consider extending its Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to include those with recent second jobs and those who have taken parental or adoption leave - as well as increasing the scheme’s cap and duration.

In the longer term, the Committee is concerned that a prolonged pandemic could increase barriers to entry into the performing arts for those from under-represented groups and damage the provision of arts education, in turn impacting “the educational and emotional recovery of children, young people, teachers, parents, and carers”.

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