Improving the Cultural Recovery Fund
In July 2020, the Government announced a £1.57 billion financial support package for the arts sector recovery called the Cultural Recovery Fund and an additional £300m was announced in the 2021 Budget. Although welcome, this is insufficient in addressing the needs of at least 700,000 creative freelancers. That is because to date, they have received little from the funds allocated to institutions and venues.
However, the devolved nations have set a precedent for directing funds to individuals, and the ISM is calling for the Government to match this example. On 10 February 2021, the Welsh Government announced it will be directing a further £8.9 million from the cultural recovery fund to support creative sector freelancers. Best practice from the devolved nations on urgent financial support for creative freelancers should be adopted in England.
The Cultural Recovery Fund is also insufficient for funding the long-term return of live performance. Many venues already operated on tight profit margins due to high operating costs. That means that much of the funding received so far kept them afloat and more support will be required to cover the advance costs of re-staging performances. But future ticket sales will be reduced to an unsustainable level due to social distancing restrictions and audience confidence.
Without effective national measures, music organisations have offered small emergency funds and crowdfunding campaigns, but these cannot sustain an industry in crisis. Therefore, additional funding is needed to cover the shortfall in reduced capacity ticket sales until venues can safely return to full capacity later in the year.