“The biggest threat to our cultural landscape in a generation”

We submitted evidence to the government enquiry about the impact of Covid-19 on arts and culture. The report published lays out the true, painful and immediate impact of the pandemic on our sector.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee has released a report in response to the evidence received, which includes several of the recommendations we put forward. We wholeheartedly agree with all of the recommendations in the report.

The Chair of the Committee is Julian Knight MP summarised the response to the enquiry, saying: “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. 

“Our report points to a department that has 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. We can see the damaging effect that has had on the robustness and ability of these areas to recover from the Covid crisis. The £1.57 bn support is welcome but for many help has come too late.

“We urge the government to act on our recommendations, to recognise the value these sectors provide and imagine how much bleaker the outcome for all without their survival.”

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The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • Sector-specific recovery deal for performing arts - 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 
  • Introduce flexible, sector specific versions of the CJRS (Coronovirus Job Retention Scheme) and SEISS (Self-Employment Income Support Scheme) guaranteed for the creative industries until their work and income returns to sustainable levels. Support for the self-employed should be urgently reviewed and amended so that it covers people who have been excluded to date
  • Cut in VAT on ticket sales for theatre and live music extended beyond January 2021, for the next three years, extend Theatre Tax Relief to 50% for the next three years and introduce a Music Tax Relief
  • Do more to restart the performing arts. The five-stage plan announced by the Secretary of State requires timescales or public health targets for when each stage might begin. Telling venues they can reopen with just a few days’ or weeks’ notice doesn’t address lead times for performance, challenges of social distancing or concerns about audience behaviours
  • 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

Read the full report: Impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors: First Report (government website)

Read our full DCMS submission: RSC submission to the DCMS (PDF)