Live industry groups including the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and the Music Venue Trust (MVT) say they are disappointed with Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a £30m support package for the cultural sector.
The Chancellor announced today, 21 December, a £1bn package to help businesses hit by the Covid-19 Omicron variant over the Winter period, including the hospitality and leisure sector.
The package includes one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors. A further £30m further funding will be made available via the Culture Recovery Fund.
NTIA CEO Michael Kill said that although “every pound of help is much needed”, the package is “far too little and borders on the insulting”.
He said, “Businesses are failing, people are losing their livelihoods and the industry is crippled.
“Mixed messaging, coupled with additional restrictions, have had a catastrophic impact on our sector over the last two weeks.
“At this critical point, we need strong leadership and a clear pathway from Government with a long term strategy for new Covid variants. The open/close strategy is crucifying businesses.”
LIVE CEO Greg Parmley also said the package does not include enough support: “We welcome the news that the Government has started to deliver much-needed financial support, but with the live music sector teetering on the brink, the package falls short of the urgent cash injection businesses need to keep them afloat.
“The amount of money pales in comparison to the mounting losses faced by the sector and the process will add layers of complexity at a time when businesses are already struggling with skeleton staff rotas and huge losses.
“We have been down this path earlier in the pandemic, with extensive form filling and application processes, by which point it will likely be too late. What we really need is an urgent boost that can help today by leaving money in businesses, such as an emergency reduction in VAT and deferral of loan repayments.”
MVT CEO Mark Davyd said the group is waiting to see further details of the package, but its initial response is that the funding seems “detached from the reality”.
Davyd said, “If correct, it would be inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem – we note that grassroots music venues are not even mentioned in the statement despite DCMS having all the evidence they need that losses in this sector alone will run to £22 million by end of January.”
Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) said they are concerned about the lack of support for artists and live industry professionals during the current “lockdown by stealth”.
MMF chief executive Annabella Coldrick and FAC CEO David Martin said, “While the package announced today may help some venues and institutions, it is essential this is also made available to those appearing on the stage or working behind it.
“Without that concrete support, such as compensation for Covid-related cancellations and viable insurance solutions, we risk artists and tens of thousands of support workers becoming collateral damage to what feels like an unfurling catastrophe.”
Parklife Festival and The Warehouse Project co-founder Sacha Lord said on Twitter: “6k will not even touch the sides for businesses. Unless the Chancellor comes back with a serious package, it’s the final nail for many small businesses. It feels very much to me, like the Gov’t are only interested in saving the big corporates.”
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