The DCMS (Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) published a committee report today, July 23, calling for the Government to announce a “no earlier than” date for stage five of its plan to reopen performing arts venue.

The report said the Government has been “too slow” to respond to the needs of the DCMS sectors during the Covid- 19 crisis and as a result many organisations are facing an “existential threat” to their survival.

It describes the Government’s support for the arts sector during the crisis as “vague and slow-coming”.

DCMS Committee chair Julian Knight MP said, “We are witnessing the biggest threat to our cultural landscape in a generation. The failure of the government to act quickly has jeopardised the future of institutions that are part of our national life and the livelihoods of those who work for them.”

Knight continued: “been treated as a ‘Cinderella’ by government when it comes to spending, despite the enormous contribution that the DCMS sectors make to the economy and job creation”.

Stating that an estimated 93% of grassroots music venues face permanent closure and 90% of all festivals would be cancelled this year, the report made a series of recommendations including:

  • Sector-specific recovery deal for performing arts that includes continued workforce support measures, including enhanced measures for freelancers and small companies; clear, if conditional, timelines for reopening, and technological solutions to enable audiences to return without social distancing; and long-term structural support to rebuild audience figures and investment
  • Government should introduce flexible, sector specific versions of the CJRS and SEISS guaranteed for the creative industries until their work and income returns to sustainable levels. Any such measures should account for the differences in timeframes for the easing of Covid-19 restrictions across the four nations. Support for the self-employed, in particular, should be urgently reviewed and amended so that it covers people who have been excluded to date
  • The cut in VAT on ticket sales for theatre and live music should be extended beyond January 2021, for the next three years. The Government should extend Theatre Tax Relief to 50% for the next three years and introduce a Music Tax Relief
  • Government should publish a ‘no earlier than’ date for stage five of its plan to reopen performing arts venues
  • Cultural Renewal Taskforce must co-ordinate cross-sector work on technological solutions for mass gatherings, ensuring the sports and entertainment sectors work together, alongside NHS Test and Trace, to develop a universal, technological solution to enable the safe return of ticket holders to events

Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) CEO Paul Reed welcomed the findings of the report: “We’re particularly pleased to see that our recommendations for long term relief, including extensions of existing employment support schemes and an extended VAT cut, have been taken onboard. We look forward to working further with DCMS to ensure that the festival sector, which generates £1.75 billion for the UK economy and supports 85,000 jobs, can survive and continue to thrive into 2021 and beyond.”