Written evidence submitted by the Association of Independent Showmen



The Association of Independent Showmen is a UK-wide trade association set up by independent “travelling Showmen” twenty seven years ago whose primary objective was, and is, to promote and support the maintenance of the fairground and circus community, advise that community and help that community prosper.

Our membership base is 1,400 with an average active yearly membership, as membership renewal is not mandatory of 390/440 members. We have a growing online social media presence where our current ‘reach’ is from 7,500 – 17,500 travelling showmen and an ‘Average engagement on reach’ of 16 – 25%; depending on content.  We regularly consult with the other travelling showmen associations in the UK as well as in Europe – Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain (SGGB), Association of Circus Proprietors (ACP), Amusement Catering Equipment Society (ACES) and The Society of Independent Roundabout Proprietors (SIRPS) and the national president of CID Europe, fairground branch, and president of “National forains and member of the circus and fairground syndicate (France) on industry wide issues, and are an accepted integral part of this traditional and cultural “travelling Showmen” community. We also consult and liaise with the United Nations and other Human Rights NGO’s on issues regarding cultural rights protection for travelling minorities.

Reason for submitting evidence

Building this new normal’ as a result of the pandemic requires a cultural rights perspective both to the question of how we survive this difficult today, and how we imagine a better tomorrow. The rights of everyone to take part in cultural life without discrimination, to freedom of artistic expression, and to benefit from scientific progress are guaranteed by both national and international law. Everyone has a right to participate in and be consulted about policies to ensure these rights. All of this remains true. Equally important, we must remember that some limitations to human rights, including cultural rights, are included in national and international law. We support stay at home orders and social distancing, while recognising that the hardships they cause to the way of life of travelling Showmen must also be addressed.[1]

Has this submission been previously published?  No

Summary [2]

So far in the response by the UK government to addressing the issues of Public Health, The Economy and the beliefs of the general public, and specifically to the beliefs regarding the needs and concerns of travelling Showmen as a result of being legislated to not operate during the public health response period there has been no constructive engagement, dissemination of information with our association, or any other travelling Showmen association regarding a dialogue in finding an “effective remedy” to protecting and preserving this unique and integral part of this nations cultural and traditional heritage.

In 2011, in a highly significant development, the UN Human Rights Committee published a new General Comment on Article 19 of the ICCPR, which, in contrast to its predecessor, expressly acknowledged that Article 19 embraces a general right of access to information held by public bodies. The General Comment noted, in arriving at this position, that Article 19, taken together with Article 25 of the ICCPR (the right to take part in public affairs), had previously been interpreted by the Committee as including a right of the media to access to information on public affairs and the right of the general public to receive media output. The Committee further noted that elements of the right of access to information were addressed elsewhere in the ICCPRGeneral Comment No 34 fleshed out the requirements necessary to give effect to the right of access to information protected under Article 19 of the ICCPR. Parties to the Covenant should both proactively publish government information of public interest and ‘enact the necessary procedures, whereby one may gain access to information, such as by means of freedom of information legislation’ [3]

Our investigations and research have identified that this issue is in part due to the fact that the UK government and it’s arm’s length bodies does not view the existence of this traditional cultural travelling minority within the context of culture, as well as to the assumption that within this community the belief that the UK government does has been met with disappointment and a growing fear that we do not actually have a place where an effective remedy to our needs and concerns can be addressed.

This simple message has been communicated on the floor of the House of Commons, via emails and phone calls and written questions by MP’s and by the UK travelling Showmen associations listed above, but the clear message that is coming back from all departments within government is one of uniform, standardised responses and a political rhetoric that fails to acknowledge our request to both be recognised and be informed in achieving an effective remedy within our ‘sector’.

Our concern is that if this lack of genuine communication and engagement continues the majority of travelling Showmen will have to endure a whole season of not being able to operate, not being able to earn a living and then have to contend with a six month period over the winter with no financial means to preserve their right to continue being in, and maintain their business of a travelling showman when they know that the traditional travelling showman season starts again just before Easter in 2021.

What has been the immediate impact of Covid-19 on the sector?

What has been the immediate impact? Most of us are terrified of expressing these difficult emotions.

Fear, anger, sadness and grief are not just painful psychologically, but also physically. So, how should we find solutions to this pain? If my tooth hurts, I’ll go see my dentist. If I get stuck in traffic, I’ll reschedule my meeting. If I lose my job, I’ll move to a cheaper house. 

If X was the problem, I find Y as the solution. Problem-solving generally works, doesn’t it?

When I have a problem, I will fix it. When I fix it, the problem seems to go away. My tooth does not hurt. My rescheduled meeting turned out fine. Moving to a cheaper house saved me the money I didn’t have in the first place. Problems get solved. They cease to exist.

The problem is that emotional pain cannot be problem-solved in this waydealing with 40,000 plus deaths by way of example of this pandemic is, if, the end goal in these questions is to get this pain to “cease to exist” won’t work. Therefore, we have had to ask ourselves, “Do they really want to know the real immediate impact on our ‘sector’? Or is this an intellectualisation process, a tick box exercise avoiding any expression and acknowledgement of difficult emotions as a result of this pandemic?

We are sure that you know that Intellectualisation is trying to do that. When we intellectualise, we are bargaining with the mind. We’re saying “Hey mind, look here. You are wrong. There is no need to feel “this” and here are one hundred reasons why.”  Look at your own experience. Does any kind of bargaining with the mind so that it does not create the emotions you dislike work?[4] It doesn’t.

Culture no longer simply means being familiar with a select list of works of art and architecture, it is the accumulated influence of creativity, the arts, museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage upon all our lives. When you talk about ‘our cultural sectors’, you are referring to an extraordinary network of individuals and organisations, that together preserve, reflect and promote who we are as a nation, in all our rich diversity. Does this not include travelling Showmen? Or is it for you just ‘funfairs and circuses’?

There will always be an aesthetic aspect to culture in its many forms; and you, the government, will always champion this cultural excellence. But each community has its own culture – its own history, language and traditions. In this global, interconnected economy, what is local and unique has a special value and should be supported and encouraged. You state we should no more dictate a community’s culture than we should tell people what to create or how to create it. The role of government is to enable great culture and creativity to flourish – and to ensure that everyone can have access to it.[5]

On the 07/12/2007 the then UK Government ratified the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Paris, 20 October 2005[6].

Where it was understood, among many other aspects of culture within this convention that:

1. Cultural diversity

“Cultural diversity” refers to the manifold ways in which the cultures of groups and societies find expression. These expressions are passed on within and among groups and societies. Cultural diversity is made manifest not only through the varied ways in which the cultural heritage of humanity is expressed, augmented and transmitted through the variety of cultural expressions, but also through diverse modes of artistic creation, production, dissemination, distribution and enjoyment, whatever the means and technologies used.

However, one of this convention’s primary objectives was, and is:

' to reaffirm the sovereign rights of States to maintain, adopt and implement policies and measures that they deem appropriate for the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions on their territory; '

And it is here, in our understanding, that lies the fundamental problem and subsequent impact on our sector that you ask about in this call to evidence. You, the UK government, in regards to its ‘sovereign rights’ on its cultural policies view "Culture" as the opportunities it offers, the benefits it brings to communities and the power it brings for the UK in its international standing[7]. In other words the primary attention of you, the UK government is towards the Cultural Sectors of the 'Creative Industries' and in so doing you promote an object-orientated, market based approach towards culture. These attitudes, in our belief, strips away the expression of diverse traditions, internal culture, and heritage for the way of life of traditional travelling circuses, funfairs and outdoor events including Showmen and just purely try to monetise and intellectualise the process.

Therefore, if this understanding is correct, if we cannot fit within a purely economic value added industry that is able to be monitored, quantified within the notion of industry and commerce of you, the UK governments understanding of "culture" - of which you don't define - then as a sovereign State you have the choice to either adopt measures, implement and protect this specific culture; or not.

As the answer to Mike Hill's (MP) written question to the DCMS on the 20th April, 2020[8], "what support is available for circuses and travelling shows during the covid-19 outbreak?" you answered:

My department is in constant contact with cultural sector representatives to assess the impact of Covid-19 on the sector and we are working to develop support for the sector in response to COVID-19.

Significant support has already been delivered at speed by DCMS arm’s-length bodies. Arts Council England having launched a £160m Emergency Funding Package, the National Lottery Heritage Fund launching a £50m Heritage Emergency Fund, and Historic England launching a £2m Emergency Fund. All of these are delivering support across the cultural sector. The Government continues to monitor the impact of these funds and the other measures announced by the government for the cultural sector.

DCMS is engaging daily with HMT and other government departments to ensure the needs of the cultural sector are factored into the developing economic response, and to support those working in the sector during this period.

It is surprising to find and highlights so far in what we have been saying that:

  1. No professional trade association/trade unions and employers’ associations of the traditional travelling Showmen community is contained within your list of ‘arm’s length bodies’[9]
  2. Having spoken to all traditional travelling showmen associations, none – apart from the ACP very indirectly have had any communication ever with these ‘bodies’ quoted.
  3. While those that perform in travelling circuses are seen as part of the performing arts - culture, travelling funfairs and outdoor events are not classified as culture, but are classified as tourism[10]
  4. It is our understanding that trade associations have a crucial role to play, in coordinating industry views for political decision-makers, as well as promoting best practice in the sector; but there has been no contact – no invitation from any governmental department for dialogue.

Furthermore, it could be concluded from these observations that at the top level of government you haven't got a clue how to respond to these requests from MP’s, as travelling circuses, funfairs and outdoor events fall outside your understanding of how to support this specific sector within the current support parameters defined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer - rateable property, PAYE, tax returns etc. Please note: We travel! We’re not static. The feedback that we have had from Local Authorities re-enforces this view, as those local authorities that we have spoken to have simply said, "Without clear guidelines from above in how to dispense funding our hands are tied. If you can show us the way forward, we are more than happy to help and give support. We just need guidance from central government."

Therefore to answer this question simply: What has been the immediate impact of Covid-19 on the sector? The impact has been devastating on our sector, both financially as well as its social impact. The loss of venues, the businesses closed is compacting with the mental pain and growing anxiety that central government, in our belief through the evidence researched and on recent correspondence isn’t listening to the concerns and needs of this traditional travelling cultural minority at all. This specific sentiment has also been reflected in our response to the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights and their question: “What have been the impacts on cultural rights and on cultural life* of the pandemic? Where:

* Cultural rights include the rights to take part in cultural life without discrimination, to access and enjoy heritage, to artistic and scientific freedom, and to benefit from scientific knowledge and its applications. Cultural life includes performing arts, museums, heritage sites, sports and public spaces used for a variety of cultural and social gatherings.[11]

How effectively has the support provided by DCMS, other Government departments and arms-length bodies addressed the sector’s needs?

Traditionally, a promise by one party to alter its contractual obligations must be a contractual bargain in the sense the other party must give something of value in exchange. It follows that if each party makes a reciprocal promise, the alteration will constitute a new binding contract on the revised terms, subject only to any argument relating to economic duress. Hence, it is relatively easy for those with legal advice to ensure each party to the proposed alteration agrees that in consideration of the other agreeing to treat the original contract as discharged, they will enter into a new contract on the same terms as the old except for the altered term, e.g. an increased price. The new contract on the revised terms is then binding, with the old contract discharged.

If this reciprocity requirement is not appreciated, it is traditionally considered that, in the context of promises altering existing contracts, a party that either does or promises to do what it is already bound to do is not providing any fresh value (or consideration) so that the renegotiation promise cannot be binding.

A question asked to the Treasury on the 19th March, 2020 by James Murray MP[12]: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he will take to ensure (a) circuses and (b) other leisure businesses who do not have fixed premises with a rateable value can potentially benefit from the cash grants being made available to other leisure businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less.

Answer by Jesse Norman: The Government has set out a package of measures to support businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19, including those businesses not eligible for the small business grant or the retail, leisure and hospitality grant.

This support for business includes the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, a statutory sick pay relief package, the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help firms continue to keep people in employment and a new lending facility from the Bank of England for larger firms. These measures provide a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent response to what is a serious and evolving economic situation. As the wider economic picture becomes clearer, the Government will do whatever it takes to get the nation through the impacts of COVID-19 and the Government stands ready to announce further action wherever necessary.

In answering the question of this section simply, this turns on the interpretation of the scope of the question in the existing parameters of this call to evidence. Our interpretation of effective direct support for our sector needs is zero. Again we stress, we travel, and we’re not static. The contractual obligations and models of business in this sector are different.

In the recent report of April, 2020 - “Lifting lockdown. How to approach a Coronavirus exit strategy” by the Institute for Government - “The government’s economic restrictions have led to a sharper and deeper fall in output than Britain has ever experienced in modern times. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) suggested in a scenario analysis published in mid-April that UK economic output could fall by 35% between the first and second quarters of 2020. The government has decided largely to cover the costs of employing workers who are not currently needed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. But it is mainly relying on making low-interest, government-guaranteed loans available to businesses to keep them going and help pay non-wage fixed costs, such as rent.”[13]

As was written earlier in this section, traditionally, a promise by one party to alter its contractual obligations must be a contractual bargain in the sense the other party must give something of value in exchange. Having been legislated under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, which stems from, The Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, to not trade in order to reduce the rate of transmission through a mass gathering event for Public Health reasons, travelling Showmen have had to alter their contractual obligations with Local Authorities where they travel during the season. Furthermore, it clearly states in the 1984 Act that:

45F Health protection regulations: supplementary

(1)    This section makes further provision about regulations under section 45B or 45C (“health protection regulations”).

(2)    Health protection regulations may—

(g) permit or require the payment of incentive payments, compensation and expenses;

(h) provide for the resolution of disputes.[14]

As we have expressed in every piece of correspondence – The majority of travelling Showmen do not have rateable property, do not pay rent on property, and employ people on a casual temporary basis. This is a traditional travelling economy of a traditional cultural travelling community, of which being “fixed” to one place is an anathema of their travelling identity. The lack of understanding, support and provision for resolution of the economic duress of these Health protection regulations on this sector is both incomprehensible, and shows the application of indirect discrimination in the responses given.

What will the likely long-term impacts of Covid-19 be on the sector, and what support is needed to deal with those?

This public health crisis is fast becoming an economic and social crisis and a protection and human rights crisis rolled into one. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the vulnerability of the least protected in society and the least protected in business sectors. It is highlighting deep economic and social inequalities and inadequate health and social protection systems that require urgent attention as part of the public health response. Controlling the virus, and protecting the right to life, means breaking the chain of infection: people must stop moving and interacting with each other. The most common public health measure taken by States against COVID-19 has been restricting freedom of movement: the lockdown or stay-at-home instruction. This measure is a practical and necessary method to stop virus transmission, prevent health-care services becoming overwhelmed, and thus save lives. However, the impact of lockdowns on jobs, livelihoods, access to services, and adequate standards of living and family life can be severe.

As the UK and the world is discovering, freedom of movement is a crucial right that facilitates the enjoyment of many other rights. While international law permits certain restrictions on freedom of movement, including for reasons of security and national emergency like health emergencies, restrictions on free movement should be strictly necessary for that purpose, proportionate and non-discriminatory. The availability of effective and generalised testing and tracing, and targeted quarantine measures, can mitigate the need for more indiscriminate restrictions. The virus does not discriminate; but its impacts do.[15] For a travelling community that earns its livelihood as a result of this freedom of movement right and which is an integral part of their identity as well as other rights, some 99% of businesses surveyed in the travelling circus, travelling funfair and outdoor event sector have said, they had temporarily ceased trading. Two thirds (66%) of businesses surveyed said they were concerned that their financial security going into the winter was “a very big worry”, with 93% saying “We’re not going to get open this year. Nor will it be worth it with half the season gone.”

The long term impacts are likely to be that 35% of micro businesses of travelling Showmen will cease to exist, and that financial support through the winter months till the time to start the travelling season again at Easter, 2021 will be needed to prevent this figure rising to 65% or higher.

Therefore, what support is needed?

The State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, based on Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, recognises that the entire EU economy is experiencing a serious disturbance.[16]


On 19th March 2020, the Commission adopted its Communication ‘’Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak’’ (‘the Temporary Framework’), which, inter alia, sets out the possibilities Member States have under Union rules to ensure liquidity and access to finance for undertakings, especially small and medium-sized undertakings (‘SMEs’) that face a sudden shortage in this period in order to allow them to recover from the current situation. The aim is to lay down a framework that enables Member States to support undertakings experiencing difficulties due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, whilst maintaining the integrity of the EU Internal Market, ensuring a level playing field.[17]

COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak (2020/C 91 I/01)[18] – emphasis added

3. The various containment measures adopted by the Member States, such as social distancing measures, travel restrictions, quarantines and lock downs are intended to ensure that the shock is as short and limited as possible. These measures have an immediate impact on both demand and supply, and hit undertakings and employees, especially in the health, tourism, culture, retail and transport sectors. Beyond the immediate effects on mobility and trade, the COVID-19 outbreak is also increasingly affecting undertakings in all sectors and of all kinds, small and medium enterprises (’SMEs’) as well as large undertakings. The impact is also felt on global financial markets, in particular with concerns for liquidity. These effects will not be contained to one particular Member State and they will have a disruptive impact on the economy of the Union as a whole.

As well as - Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 108(4) thereof[19],

Having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 994/98 of 7 May 1998 on the application of Articles 92 and 93 of the Treaty establishing the European Community to certain categories of horizontal State aid (1 ), and in particular Article 1(1)(a) and (b) thereof,


Article 53 - Aid for culture and heritage conservation (edited for ease of reading)

1. Aid for culture and heritage conservation shall be compatible with the internal market within the meaning of Article 107(3) of the Treaty and shall be exempted from the notification requirement of Article 108(3) of the Treaty, provided the conditions laid down in this Article and in Chapter I are fulfilled.

2. The aid shall be granted for the following cultural purposes and activities:

(a) museums, archives, libraries, artistic and cultural centres or spaces, theatres, opera houses, concert halls, other live performance organisations, film heritage institutions and other similar artistic and cultural infrastructures, organisations and institutions;

(b) tangible heritage including all forms of movable or immovable cultural heritage and archaeological sites, monuments, historical sites and buildings; natural heritage linked to cultural heritage or if formally recognized as cultural or natural heritage by the competent public authorities of a Member State;

(c) intangible heritage in any form, including folklorist customs and crafts;

(d) art or cultural events and performances, festivals, exhibitions and other similar cultural activities;

(e) cultural and artistic education activities as well as promotion of the understanding of the importance of protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions through educational and greater public awareness programs, including with the use of new technologies;

3. The aid may take the form of:

(a) investment aid, including aid for the construction or upgrade of culture infrastructure;

(b) operating aid.

Furthermore, on the 22nd April, 2020, the Council of the EU gave its approval and therefore made possible the adoption of a Regulation amending Regulations 1301/2013 and 1303/2013 as regards specific measures to provide exceptional flexibility for the use of the European Structural and Investments Funds in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The measure, known as ‘Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus’ (CRII+) allows mobilisation of all existing reserves in the structural funds for 2020 to tackle the effects of the outbreak. Moreover, for the period between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021, Member States will be able to request 100% financial support from the EU budget.[20]

As the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has written in reply to questions on the matter of financial support for culture by Member States, “In line with the Cohesion Policy principles, this offers a possibility to the Member States to choose their priority investments related to tackling the COVID-19 outbreak. These can include health expenditure, but also, for instance, support for small to medium-sized enterprises or short-term employment schemes, which could be of assistance to cultural and creative sectors if such a decision is made by a given Member State.[21]

As quoted before, in all these decisions, this is about the right ' to reaffirm the sovereign rights of States to maintain, adopt and implement policies and measures that they deem appropriate for the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions on their territory; '

What lessons can be learnt from how DCMS, arms-length bodies and the sector have dealt with Covid-19?

The original problem lies in the homogeneity of treatment for completely different sectors. A video game company could receive the same aid as a company in the tourism sector which, however, does not take into account the difference between a static business, and a business that travels. The travelling Showmen sector will lose several million pounds this year, but we still have the problem of paying suppliers etc. for arrears. We therefore need grants to secure the sector.

Our research confirms the need to direct the contents generated by tourism businesses and marketing towards a renewed proposition of the services offered, directing consumers to reactivate interest in travel and traditional leisure time proposals that also respond to the feeling of widespread insecurity in travelling further afield.

Here are some thoughts from travelling Showmen to our request for feedback to this call to evidence:

I don't feel like we had any help, any help received where not specific to our sector i.e. financial help through Universal credit or extension on MOT or breaks in repayment etc. is help put in place for the general population. Anything more specific for us such as an extension on the testing scheme, or grant for self -employed etc. hasn't been accepted and many of us don't qualify. The long term effect I think will be the loss of the public confidence and financially the disappearance of many small/medium businesses, showmen and circuses. I guess we are very flexible and can quickly adapt to a new situation, but we have been completely forgotten and can only rely on our personal resources. New measures must be put in place on a new way to work, however we must have the full support from the government and from local councils with a united message that works for us and them. Ultimately, we must be recognised by the government for what we are and what we do which is contributing to the economy like any other business.

There has been little or no help from the government and any other source except food banks. There is no attempt to actively help showmen and no active plan or structure to help in a return to mass events. The long term is bleak, and I think the total impact will end a lot of our culture and impact how we live and work. I would think that about 25 percent of showman will never return to our trade. Support is needed to be tailored to our cultural needs and financial commitments and be assessed as a cultural minority and given a living support package. There needs to strong lessons and procedures put in place to take into account our specific needs, and create specific programs put in place for all types of showmen and all the associations that fall under the mass gathering umbrella. A working group needs to be setup with clear objectives for future events that impact our industry. A clear plan of action to cover every scenario that might present itself: Plans for each event, Structure, Planning, Financial, Relief and Support.

How might the sector evolve after Covid-19, and how can DCMS support such innovation to deal with future challenges?

Culture is not the outcome of an economic sector which gathers products or services, either in terms of production or dissemination. Cultural activities often cross several economic sectors (e.g. industry, services, communications and trade sectors etc.).

Culture encompasses various social practices currently recognised as cultural within a specific group and even these social conventions are evolving. It represents the values of individuals, their own aesthetic and philosophical representations and, at a more collective level, all the ways of understanding a people’s identity. Cultural activities are very diverse and depending on divergent national institutional policies. For academic issues, it is interesting to carry out empirical research, but for the methodological work on statistics, privileged already existing notions and intuitive acceptance of culture needs to be questioned.[22]

While it can be argued that the 'right to travel' for showmen is different to that of 'Gypsies and Travellers right to travel' simply because of a protected characteristic in UK law, anthropological research suggests that there are three main categories of nomadic peoples: pastoral nomads, nomadic hunter-gatherers and peripatetic service nomads[23]. Travelling Showmen by any stretch of the imagination are and have been shown, both in national and international law, as being seen as peripatetic service nomads. That being: a person travelling from place to place, in particular working or based in various places for relatively short periods.

As of the 14th February, 2020 travelling Showmen have been discussed in both houses of the UK Parliament since the 1800's, six hundred and thirteen times, and by the use of a ‘keywords searchwe can create the following breakdown to substantiate this claim:

(i)                  travelling circus 314

(ii)                 travelling/ showmen 218

(iii)               pleasure fair 32

(iv)               nomadic travelling showmen 16

(v)                 other traveller 6

(vi)               showpeople 27

There are also one hundred and fifty four instances where the terms 'showmen', 'travelling showmen', 'pleasure fair', 'showpeople' and 'travelling circus' are contained within all current UK legislation; including Directives from the EU – within the same parameters quoted.

From 1968 to the current date 'travelling showmen' have been referred to within International committees on both law, minority rights and culturally - with submissions from the UK and other signatories to the Council of Europe (COE) – twenty three times in the context of both nomadism and being seen and treated as a National Minority; though without formal recognition – same data collection method of keyword search used.

However, it is widely recognised that this specific culture genre is difficult to be measured; especially Funfairs.

The economy of Funfairs forms a special group within the economic activities that make culture accessible for the public. This is for two reasons. These enterprises are organised by the hiring of several other parties, like tent builders, caterers, sanitation builders, road instruction builders, light and other effects specialist etc. The occupations approach includes some of them (technicians) but the activities are not incorporated as cultural enterprises. In the case of the funfairs this is why it is disputable.

The line-up, determined by the organiser of the funfair, is not the only thing necessary for making the performance accessible, you need the funfair terrain, the rides and its side stalls etc. In a way the economic activities necessary to have a funfair, are the funfairs facility to operate as a service. The Charter fairs (and to a lesser extent the “informal” fairs) are in many cases public events and in those cases often organised by local or national government. As such the economic value/costs of (organising) funfairs will not be exclusively found among enterprises classified in the cultural SIC-2007 codes.

In summing up the answering of the question, “How might the sector evolve after Covid-19, and how can DCMS support such innovation to deal with future challenges?” We will leave our reply to our Director of Policy, Robert Wilkinson, a traditional travelling Showman and Fairground Lessee.

“Fairs were seen to be important by the government after the war, the stay at home holiday fairs. In this time of decreasing emissions which the government wants to include as the way forward, then the two hundred fairs a week during the summer, visiting communities in local parks, a walk away from family’s homes firmly fits the governments plan of moving forward after Cov-19. Especially when taking into account the desire to reduce emissions, unlike some other forms of entertainment which you must drive to. Remember, where did such iconic tourist attractions such as the London Eye originate from? Funfairs

This above shows, that it is difficult to lay boundaries, even if necessary to identify culture. This is why we as travelling Showmen have and continue to fall through the gaps in financial support, and legislation. As Rabinder Singh QC commented in the article, ‘Equality: the neglected virtue’, [2004] 2 EHRLR 141’

“In many ways the most important word in the European Convention on Human Rights is ‘everyone’. Most of the substantive articles of the Convention begin with the word ‘everyone’. The real challenge is to take that word seriously and accept that it means what it says.”[24]

[1] Adapted from the talk given by Karima Bennoune , UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights ,22 April 2020 https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/CulturalRights/BeyondTheOutbreak-online2020-KBspeech.pdf

[2] https://committees.parliament.uk/submission/#/evidence/113/preamble

[3] https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r30698.pdf

[4] https://www.lifehack.org/467822/5-reasons-to-quit-intellectualizing-your-emotions

[5] https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/iha-historic-amusement-parks-fairground-rides/heag057-historic-amusement-parks-iha/

[6] http://www.unesco.org/eri/la/conventions_by_country.asp?contr=GB&language=E&typeconv=1


[8] https://members.parliament.uk/member/4644/writtenquestions#expand-1188223

[9] https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations#department-for-digital-culture-media-sport

[10] The Great Britain Day Visitor 2017 Annual Report - https://www.visitbritain.org/sites/default/files/vb-corporate/Documents-Library/documents/England-documents/260139488_-_kantar_tns_-_gbdvs_2017_annual_report_v5.pdf

[11] https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/COVID-19-and-Special-Procedures.aspx - section ‘Outreach’

[12] https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-03-19/32223/

[13] https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/lifting-lockdown-how-approach-coronavirus-exit-strategy_1.pdf

[14] http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1984/22

[15] https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/un_policy_brief_on_human_rights_and_covid_23_april_2020.pdf

[16] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_496


[18] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52020XC0320(03)&from=EN

[19] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32014R0651&from=EN

[20] https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-7-2020-INIT/en/pdf

[21] Reference source can be shared on request

[22] https://ec.europa.eu/assets/eac/culture/library/reports/ess-net-report_en.pdf

[23] - See Bogue, ‘Apology for Nomadology’, (2004) 6 Interventions 169; and Berland and Salo, ‘Peripatetic Communities: AnIntroduction’, (1986) 21/22 Nomadic Peoples 1