Written evidence submitted by Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority
Submission to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport call for evidence on the impact of Covid-19
This submission to the DCMS call for evidence on the impact of Covid-19 Committee Inquiry is submitted on behalf of Dan Jarvis MBE MP, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region. The Mayor welcomes the opportunity to respond to this call for evidence and has provided responses that are the most pertinent to the SCR as well as providing additional comments that the Department may find insightful.
1. Key Asks
Art, culture and music can be a vehicle to recovery and renewal, contributing to healthy and sustainable communities and vibrant town centres. But the sector requires suitable and accessible financial support to enable this, comprising:
- Establish a regionally devolved Cultural Investment Fund to pave the recovery of the sector.
- Reassess the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and other financial support currently in place, avoiding a cliff edge, and accepting that social distancing measures will mean that art, cultural and music organisations and venues will be one of the last to reopen and likely operate at a reduced capacity for the foreseeable future.
- Support the sector not just by keeping organisations afloat but also by enabling new ways of working and commissioning creative, new solutions – making the most of the sector’s talent.
- Invest in digital infrastructure across the sector to allow organisations to transition services online.
- The Department must put pressure on insurance companies to pay out loss of income through event cancellations due to the lockdown.
- Appoint a representative from the music sector to the DCMS Cultural Recovery Taskforce, not just the sub-committees.
- Arts Council England have repurposed nearly all of their reserves and in year budgets for emergency funding. This needs to be replaced to enable funding new work so the sector can renew, not just survive.
‘Be with us for the duration - our problems don't end at end of lockdown’
(Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘Ensure that there is still room for ambition beyond just survival.’
(Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘See culture as being essential and useful to our recovery.’
(Art & Culture Survey respondent)
What has been the immediate impact of Covid-19 on the sector?
2.1. Key challenges, based on two South Yorkshire wide surveys undertaken by the University of Sheffield, in partnership with Sheffield City Region, one targeted at art and cultural organisations and one targeted at the music sector, are cash flow, overheads, cancelled work and uncertainty about the medium to long-term future; putting jobs at risk.
2.2. The 64 survey responses from art and cultural organisation revealed that they had a combined loss of audience numbers of nearly four million between April and August. They are also expecting a combined loss of income close to £30m.
2.3. 37 respondents reported that 2087 staff have been furloughed with 9 respondents retaining a small number of staff (56 in total). 73 jobs have already been lost (reported by 7 respondents) through the cancellation or postponement of events and festivals.
2.4. The directly attributable costs incurred relating to cancelled shows or events during 2020 is over £1.2m (£1,266,302) reported by 43 respondents to the music survey. Over half of respondents are also expected turnover to decrease over 50%.
How effectively has the support provided by DCMS, other Government departments and arms-length bodies addressed the sector’s needs?
2.5. A lot of the organisations surveyed across South Yorkshire are currently making use of the furlough scheme, which has been very welcome. However, the art, culture and music sector are expected to be one of the last to be able to reopen and even then, they will presumably have to operate on a reduced capacity.
2.6. This is likely to make operations financially unviable if the furlough scheme is not extended flexibly. The same is also the case for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Many, freelance workers and artists are also still falling through the gaps of both schemes and have not received any financial support other than applying for Universal Credit.
2.7. Qualitative survey comments also point to organisations’ struggling to access the Government’s loan schemes and other financial support and being ineligible for bank loans. This needs to be addressed and, if required, new schemes need to be developed that are accessible to art, culture and music organisations.
2.8. The Department must also ensure that it provides additional capital and revenue funding support to Arts Council England. ACE has moved incredibly quickly to put in place emergency support for the sector. However, this leaves little left for support after September or resources that could be used to invest in the sector and projects that can help the nation recover from this health and economic crisis.
What will the likely long-term impacts of Covid-19 be on the sector, and what support is needed to deal with those?
2.9. The long-term impacts of Covid-19 on the sector will depend on when organisations will be able to reopen and what social distancing measures will have to be adhered to. However, the surveys carried out for this submission are already pointing to significant loss of income, cancelled events and festivals, cancelled community art projects and job at risk affecting not just 2020 but 2021.
2.10. Many of the micro and small organisations or creative freelancers will simply not recover from this crisis. Leaving our cultural landscape significantly depleted.
2.11. Survey responses from South Yorkshire state that financial support is needed to support overheads (especially once the furlough scheme ends) while operations cannot be at full capacity.
2.12. Investment into digital infrastructure is essential to make the sector more resilient for the future.
2.13. Investment into new creative work will be vital to stimulate the sector but also our communities, towns and city centre. This would be ideally done through a regionally devolved Cultural Investment Fund.
2.14. The Department must put pressure on insurance companies to pay out loss of income through event cancellations due to the lockdown and to offer affordable cover for future projects. Many organisations cannot get cover for future events as rates are not affordable or reasonable.
How might the sector evolve after Covid-19, and how can DCMS support such innovation to deal with future challenges?
2.15. A strong cultural sector can contribute to welcoming, distinctive and attractive places. This can no longer just be recognised anecdotally but must become central to policy making.
2.16. Currently, South Yorkshire has lower public funding on a national and local level, compared to the rest of the North and England as a whole.
2.17. Per capita allocation of National Lottery Heritage Funding is significantly less than the average for England and ‘the North’. (£18 pp in South Yorkshire, £30 pp for ‘The North’, £31 pp for England)
2.18. Similarly, Arts Council England National Portfolio funding (2018/19-2021/22) for South Yorkshire organisations is significantly below both national averages.
2.19. The sector must also become part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. Investment is required so that existing divides and inequalities do not widen further.
2.20. Digital infrastructure and more outdoor flexible spaces and places will enable the sector to become more resilient. DCMS can support this with long-term funding programmes. In this time of renewal, programmes which allow flexibility for creative and innovative solutions and regional priorities will achieve more than a one-size fits all approach.
2.21. Art, culture and music can be a vehicle to recovery and renewal, contributing to healthy and sustainable communities and vibrant town centres but it must be given the tools to do so.
3.1. The Sheffield City Region (SCR) comprises the Mayoral Combined Authority, the Local Enterprise Partnership and the SCR Executive Team.
3.2. SCR is a polycentric city region, comprised of the core city of Sheffield and the surrounding towns of Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster; the largest metropolitan authority in the country.
3.3. The City Region is home to 1.8 million people, with 68,000 businesses, providing 862,000 jobs and a growing economy with huge untapped potential.
3.4. Sheffield City Region, on behalf of Mayor Dan Jarvis, is submitting evidence to this DCMS enquiry because art and culture is an emerging priority for the region and the sector is one of the hardest hit by the current crisis.
3.5. SCR brings together strong and proud communities across both urban and rural settings.
3.6. Our communities have a deep sense of place and identity. We are a region that is proud to play a role on the global stage.
3.7. From the Snooker World Championships at the Crucible Theatre to the St Leger Festival in Doncaster; we host numerous local, national and international events every year, contributing hugely to our residents’ wellbeing and to the vibrancy of the region’s towns and city centre.
3.8. But to realise our full potential we need a transformational programme of investment in our cultural assets.
3.9. This will be a key priority for the new regional Strategic Economic Plan as we stand to implement the Devolution Deal for SCR.
3.10. The economic and social crisis caused by the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on our communities and businesses across South Yorkshire, the United Kingdom and globally and we are facing yet another recession; maybe the biggest one yet.
3.11. The sectoral impact of Covid-19 has been varied. Unlike previous recessions, it has affected hospitality, non-food retail and leisure the most so far. These sectors employ 113,000 people in the Sheffield City Region, 17% of its workforce.
3.12. This includes theatres, museums, music venues, heritage attractions, galleries and recording studios, who all had to close shop on 13th March this year.
3.13. Although non-essential retail has been allowed to re-open from 15th June in England, this will not include all those organisations in the art, culture, music and heritage sector, whose services are based on experiences, often in close proximity to other people.
3.14. Music and art festivals will remain cancelled or postponed. Museums, theatres and music venues will remain closed and, even if re-opened, will most likely have to reduce their capacity to the point where operations become financially unviable.
3.15. This, together with the common underestimation of the sector in terms of what it contributes to the economy, society and place and the accompanying lack of specific support, the cultural sector is in serious danger of collapse.
3.16. This submission to DCMS’ call for evidence includes testimonies on the challenges South Yorkshire art, culture, music and leisure organisations are currently experiencing and what support from the Department would help overcome them.
‘Encourage [the] government to think long-term about all of [supporting the sector]. The arts are not the hospitality industry, and things can't get up and running in a short space of time as venues are allowed to open. Support will be needed for artists and organisations for a long time to come […] People are turning to the arts and being creative in lockdown, supported by the many events and videos available online and mostly provided for free by artists. We are helping the mental well-being of this country as everyone tries to cope with lockdown[…]’ (Music Survey respondent)
4. Art & Culture
Art & Culture make a significant contribution to the economy and beyond
4.1. According to research from Arts Council England and the Creative Industries Federation in 2019, the arts and culture sector contributed more than £10.8bn gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy – more than agriculture. For every £1 GVA generated by arts and culture, an additional £1.14 of GVA is generated in the wider economy. In 2016, the arts and culture industry employed 137,250 people in the UK. Culture pays £2.8bn in taxes - that’s £5 for every £1 of public investment. For every job supported by arts and culture, an additional 1.65 jobs are supported in the wider economy.
4.2. The wider creative industries, as defined by DCMS, are the fastest growing part of the UK economy. In 2017, the sector contributed £101.5bn GVA to the UK’s economy. This is an increase of 53.1% since 2010. The sector now generates more than 5.5% of the UK’s total GVA and accounts for one in 11 jobs across the UK (more jobs than the manufacturing sector and more than twice as many jobs as in financial services).
4.3. Without public investment into arts and culture, the remarkable economic success of the UK’s creative industries would simply not be possible.
4.4. New research from the Creative Industries Federation has revealed that the Creative Industries (CIs) are projecting a combined £74bn turnover loss over the course of 2020 compared to 2019 (-30%). This is expected to translate into a GVA shortfall of £29bn in 2020 compared to 2019 (-25%).
4.5. In 2020, CIs are projecting a 119,000 drop in employment among employees (despite the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) and a further 287,000 job losses among self-employed workers, compared to 2019 levels. In total, 406,000 CIs jobs are considered at risk.
The regional impact of Art & Culture
4.6. On a South Yorkshire level, new research undertaken by Chamberlain Walker Economics Ltd, commissioned by South Yorkshire local authority partners and in collaboration with the Sheffield City Region, has found that South Yorkshire has a rich and varied arts, culture and heritage sector. The economic (and wider) impact of this sector is significant and should be considered a key economic driver in its own right alongside advanced manufacturing, retail etc.
4.7. The South Yorkshire arts, culture and heritage sector has a direct economic impact of £100m in GVA and sustains 3,000 jobs. Indirect and induced economic effects delivers a further £100m GVA and a further 3,400 jobs.
4.8. The sector also contributes significantly to local communities, many of which are deprived.
4.9. Wellbeing derived from cultural participation, including increased confidence, social connectivity and life satisfaction, can be valued in the order of £1.2bn per annum for South Yorkshire residents
4.10. Better mental and physical health through cultural participation is leading to savings by the NHS of circa £10m every year.
4.11. Volunteering can be valued at circa £50m per year.
4.12. This is despite the fact that South Yorkshire has lower public funding on a national and local level, compared to the rest of the North and England as a whole.
4.13. Per capita allocation of National Lottery Heritage Funding for South Yorkshire is significantly less than the average for England and ‘the North’; with £18 per person going to South Yorkshire, £30 per person for ‘The North’ and £31 per person for England on average.
4.14. Similarly, Arts Council England National Portfolio funding (2018/19-2021/22) for South Yorkshire organisations is significantly below both national averages and other city regions (£15/person compared to £45/person in West Yorkshire and £38 per person in Greater Manchester).
4.15. On a local authority level, all spending has declined significantly since 2008/9 across the UK. However, net expenditure per head on culture, arts and heritage in South Yorkshire fell over 40% from £48 per person down to £28 per person and is significantly below other city regions (Merseyside - £32 pp; Greater Manchester - £36 pp and West Yorkshire £42 pp).
4.16. The sector must become part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. Investment is required so that existing divides and inequalities do not widen further.
The impact of the Covid-19 on the Art & Culture sector in South Yorkshire
4.17. In March, Government took the decision to ban mass gatherings and events in an unprecedented move to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This led to art and culture organisations closing their doors overnight.
4.18. Organisations that had to reinvent how they operate, due to significant cuts to public funding after the 2008 economic crash, are now even more vulnerable as their self-generated income streams, through ticket sales, catering and retail takings and event hire (among others) have dried up. The vast majority of these income streams are entirely dependent on ‘bums on seats’, events and footfall, which is exactly what is being restricted by social distancing measures for the unforeseeable future.
4.19. The University of Sheffield, in partnership with Sheffield City Region, distributed an online survey to art, culture and leisure organisations across Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, to better understand how the Coronavirus crisis is affecting the sector and identify what support needs to be put in place to ensure it continues to flourish once lockdown measures are eased.
4.20. 64 responses from venues such as theatres, events and festivals and museums. across South Yorkshire were received. Although responses are not necessarily representative of the diverse sector as a whole, the provide a good overview of the current situation organisations find themselves in.
4.21. In total, the responding organisations were expecting to welcome nearly 4 million (3,982,102) people through their doors, to enjoy a play or show, participate in an event or see an exhibition between April and August.
4.22. All respondents have reported that they had to close their doors and had to cancel and/or postpone events and festivals.
4.23. 27 respondents (predominantly cultural organisations) reported that some content was still being delivered although in a different format (mostly virtually). However, it is noteworthy that online content often does not generate the same or any income compared to the originally planned content.
‘As a charity limited by guarantee by the local authority we cannot access the business interruption loan and are too big to access the smaller charity loans. Our only access to funding is through the local authority who lack funds, and have more desperate cases than ourselves. We are fortunate that we kept a strong prudent reserve for this eventuality, however this was hard earnt and will take some earning back, and limit our ability to reinvest into our business for the future. Furlough has enabled our business to survive longer, but my real concern is when furlough ends / opening with social distance begins we will be carrying massive overheads with significantly reduced income streams, this period of time will damage our business more than the closure period.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘Our cash flow is OK for now as many customers have rolled over their tickets. The danger is a shortfall when it comes to finances for 2021 - this could jeopardise our ability to continue with the event’. (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
4.24. Most of the survey respondents that provided information, are currently funded by a mixture of grant funding or public funding and income from tickets, donations and commercial income (e.g. retail ,hospitality etc.). Arts Council England Funding was the most frequently mentioned public funder. Some respondents referred to short term stability but had doubts for the medium to long term depending on how long the shutdown would last.
4.25. Unsurprisingly, the main purpose of the funding support is to cover operational costs (57% of responses). Respondents said they needed the funding for the organisation to ‘survive’ to cover costs of buildings and utilities and support the recovery.
4.26. Most of the respondents reported actual or expected loss of income during the shutdown period. There is a wide range of responses due to the range of responding organisations that took part.
4.27. The survey found that: There is close to £30m (£29,676,692) in lost income from ticket sales, retail sales, sponsorship and donations reported by all respondents.
4.28. Venues (11 respondents) appear to be hardest hit with an average loss of £1.6m and a total loss of £17.2m.
4.29. 23 cultural organisations reported total losses of £11m.
4.30. 16 events, festivals and events organising companies reported a total loss of £1.6m.
4.31. Themes that emerged about current challenges included cash flow, uncertainty and survival in the immediate short term.
4.32. Respondents also mentioned that there is a perception that they or their organisations could fall through the funding gaps, e.g. because the organisation is not a non-profit organisation, not eligible for the small business grant, business rate relief or other government schemes.
4.33. Lack of specific sector support, navigating existing support, moving to remote working and administration and time taken to access funding are also mentioned.
4.34. Qualitative comments reveal a perception that there is a focus on immediate short term relief and less acknowledgement of longer-term considerations such as the value that the sector brings - in economic terms but also in supporting communities in their recovery.
‘Furlough is great for covering wages, but really we need staff to be able to work to be able to ensure the long term sustainability of the organisation. Social distancing means we need to develop new income sources as its likely previous income sources won't be available even after lockdown.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘There is little clarity on how lockdown will be lifted and teams are engaged in scenario planning to plan for strict social distancing measures but there is no guidance on how long this will last which will affect all of our cultural venues and events.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
4.35. 37 respondents reported that 2087 staff have been furloughed with 9 respondents retaining a small number of staff (56 in total).
4.36. 73 jobs (reported by 7 respondents) have already been lost through the cancellation or postponement of events and festivals.
4.37. Respondents also mentioned loss of volunteers, some staff working reduced hours, cancellation of planned work with artists and partners and the potential for further job losses, although the surveys were mainly completed before the extension to the furlough scheme was announced.
4.38. Several respondents expressed concern that further job losses may arise when business returns, due to changes in parts of the business (e.g. catering and retail sales) and the time taken for visitors to return to pre-COVID levels.
4.39. In response to the question about what support the sector would welcome in the medium to long term, respondents identified issues relating to audiences, finances and funding, recovery, sectoral issues and staff. Below are some examples:
‘Help financially with supporting costs whilst we develop new services and products to attract audiences in a new world.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘Ensure insurance cover terms are unified, clarified and underwritten.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘We need to be aware that whilst some organisations may be able to function for a number of months, their reserves will be depleted and the organisation (it's staff and services) will be put at risk. There is a risk that the urgent cases, in less financially secure positions, will utilise all the funding available in the short-term. This will potentially put a strain on the more financially secure organisations further down the line. We need to be aware that the need for emergency funding may last well into the following year, especially for cultural organisations who will not be opened until the last phases of the government response. It is likely that there will also be a significant impact on engagement once activity and sites are re-opened, the income from activity is likely to be a reduced level for a long time. So even those organisations that are relatively financially secure for a few months will struggle in the future. It is likely that we will also see significant cuts in Sheffield City Council funding in the future and a significant drop in grant availability in the future.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘Consider that we may lose almost a full year of trading income and that the whole infrastructure of the sector is affected – freelance artists, stage managers, touring companies, theatres, galleries, venues, and we all make our money from people being together in a live experience. Reducing auditorium capacities will not work financially for smaller venues, investing in PPE and safety measures will have to come from reserves, consider the role the sector plays in supporting communities in trauma through recovery. One size fits all won't work. Cultural venues vary in size, scale, age and catchment. We have already been underfunded for a very long time and if we are not supported to recover effectively we will disappear and the sector will take years to be built back up.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘Consider some sort of support package that acknowledges that it won't be business as usual for many months to come, and if the culture sector is to get back on its feet and provide the public with the joy and mental stimulation it has during lockdown, then it will need some sort of interim measures that cover the loss in ticket income through social distancing.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
Consumer demand and confidence
‘The biggest challenge for the venue will concern ongoing social distancing measures and how that relates to physical activity. Second biggest is economic downturn and lack of funds for people to spend on arts participation and events.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘Focus on small interventions in local neighbourhoods, as people will be nervous about attending large events with big crowds or taking public transport.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
Support for Arts Council England
‘Arts Council Project Grants (or equivalent) must be reinstated within the next couple months to allow companies to begin to plan and produce work again (ready for when venues re-open). This should not be a reduced pot or the level of competition will wipe out huge sections of the theatre industry. In short, the money which has gone into this emergency ACE pot should be replaced by DCMS.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
Recognition & Advocacy
‘See culture as being essential and useful to our recovery. Advocate and place it centrally in policy, ensure parity across the UK in terms of access to excellent culture and therefore invest well. Ensure that there is still room for ambition beyond just survival. Make a step change in terms of working collaboratively and connectivity to make culture accessible and helpful to all, e.g. social prescribing and health & wellbeing.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
‘Ensure that culture services are supported and recognise that culture services is part of the solution in terms of their ability to engage people in communities, have a positive impact on the most vulnerable, improve well being, increase aspiration and attainment and reduce inequalities, as well as being able to rapidly grow jobs in the culture and creative industries and tourism sectors.’ (Art & Culture Survey respondent)
Music makes a significant contribution to the regional economy and beyond
5.1. In 2017 the Sheffield City Region Music sector attracted 832,000 people to attend live music events, 311,000 of which were tourists from outside the region, and generated £92 million through music tourism.
5.2. Nationally, the music industry contributed £5.2 billion to the UK economy in 2018. The total export revenue of the music industry was £2.7 billion and employment in the industry hit 190,935.
5.3. Despite these impressive figures, the DCMS Cultural Renewal Taskforce does not include a representative from a music organisation or representative body.
The impact of the Covid-19 on the art & culture sector in South Yorkshire
5.4. The University of Sheffield, in partnership with Sheffield City Region Music Board, and input from UK Music, distributed an online survey to the South Yorkshire music sector to better understand how the Coronavirus crisis is affecting the sector and identify what support needs to be put in place to ensure it continues to flourish once lockdown measures are eased.
5.5. 48 responses from across South Yorkshire were received and, although not representative of the diverse music sector as a whole, provide a good overview of the current situation music businesses and artists find themselves in.
5.6. The total loss of income reported by 43 survey submissions and attributed mainly to cancelled shows and events for 2020 stands at £1.2m. This ranges from £20 to £400,000 and an average of £30,150.
5.7. The sector varies greatly in terms of organisational size and, according to UK Music, the community of self-employed workers in the music industry make up 72% of the music industry’s workforce. An average loss of £30,000 in turnover must be seen with this in mind as it often directly affects individual livelihoods, and by default, the crucial infrastructure of musicians, composers, producers, sound engineers, music managers and promoters, who are all essential in producing and distributing music content and ultimately contributing to the economy.
5.8. The UK is internationally renowned for their music talent exports. But if grass root music venues and organisations are having to close due to Coronavirus impacts, the ecosystem vital for talent development will dry up.
5.9. The total predicted turnover of 46 respondents for 2020 before the shutdown was just over £5m (£5,099,856). Unsurprisingly, there is a wide range of between £150 and £1.4m and an average of £113,330. Only one respondent predicted increase in turnover. All other respondents are expecting a significant decrease, if not total loss of income. In fact over half of respondents expect to lose over 50% of their predicted turnover.
5.10. In addition to financial concerns there is a sense of uncertainty about when live events will be able to return and audiences’ appetite for live music events. Social distancing measures will likely remain in place for the foreseeable future and will affect the capacity of music venues and events. This will in turn effect the financial viability of both events and venues.
‘As long as social-distancing is in place, no venue is going to be able to provide more than a third of its previous income from any event. This is not a sustainable financial model for an industry that already survives on a shoestring. Audiences are unlikely to want to cram into tiny spaces; many will not want to travel on public transport. Some may not be allowed out of their homes. So can we still put events on? The figures [provided] relate to an autumn and spring season going ahead as normal. This is highly unlikely, so turnover will be even lower. This starts to impact on staffing in the long-term, and the future of organisations to be able to carry on in a similar capacity as they used to will be greatly reduced. If at all.’ (Music Survey respondent)
5.11. Currently recording studios and teaching spaces across South Yorkshire are closed, which affects the production of new content and ongoing music education. Virtual alternatives cannot replace the existing infrastructure completely.
5.12. The respondents sustained 650 jobs before the shutdown. They reported that currently 437 jobs have ceased and are either furloughed or ineligible for the Job Retention scheme.
5.13. This data gives an indication of the effect on jobs, but many respondents also referred to loss of customers or event cancellations resulting in loss of income for both the respondent and their suppliers. One teacher reported a loss of pupils since moving to online teaching and another respondent stated that the cancellation of gigs had subsequently meant cancelling existing work with freelancers.
5.14. The overall impact of the shutdown is obviously unknown at this time although it is widely acknowledged that a return to normal is unlikely in the short term. Most respondents expect that their business is likely to be affected during 2021 with the most expected long-term impacts to be reduced audiences and number of events.
5.15. 32 out of the 48 respondents had to apply for finance due to the coronavirus crisis. Most frequently mentioned are government funding (45%); Bounce Back loan (20%); Help Musicians (15%) and Arts Council England (15%). The most cited reasons were immediate overheads and short-term protection of the business.
5.16. At the time of the survey, 35% had had funding awarded and 25% had been rejected. 18% were still awaiting a decision.
5.17. The survey did reveal some glimmers of hope particularly in respect of delivering content in new ways. Online streaming is providing new opportunities to reach wider geographical audiences. This also brings new collaborative partnership opportunities for a small number of respondents.
‘We have created an online music festival to replace [the existing one], which has seen our musicians step-up to the challenge of recording themselves and how to play 'together' when in separate cities. This may mean that they are more willing to undertake such activities in the future and we can create a decent online archive of music. We have also had a lot of donations from local people, which is heart-warming and shows how many people care about [the festival] and our freelance musicians - we are building a rapport with many supporters that may not have happened otherwise and could stand us in good stead for the future.’ (Music Survey respondent)
5.18. Whilst delivering online content is providing new ways of working, it is noteworthy that online content often does not generate the same or any income compared to the originally planned content.
5.19. Respondents were asked what would help them or the industry in these uncertain times. Responses included requests for financial help, in particular around overheads (rent and utilities) and around the shortfall of income if venue capacity has to be reduced due to social distancing; further support for self-employed, especially those ineligibles for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and recognition from Government on the economic impact and societal benefits of the music sector.
‘live music is in danger of dying out. Musicians will quit due to the financial pressure they are under and venues will close, so there's going to be fewer places to play.’ (Music Survey respondent)