Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee writes letter to extend furlough in the arts and leisure sectors
Julian Knight MP, Chair of the DCMS Select Committee has written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, calling for an extension to the furlough scheme for the arts and leisure sectors. This reinforces the committee’s report that was published in July, stating that the impact of ending the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in October would put the future of our cultural workforce and creative industries at significant risk. In the letter, Knight mentioned how the arts and leisure sectors are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 51 per cent of workers still reliant on furlough, compared with 13 per cent across all industries. But, whilst restrictions on activity and audiences remain, employees of empty theatres and closed leisure centres face no real prospect of returning to work.
The Heritage Alliance and Architectural Heritage Fund launch Heritage Funding Directory
The Heritage Funding Directory – managed by The Heritage Alliance and Architectural Heritage Fund – is a free guide to financial support for anyone undertaking UK related heritage projects. The directory will be used a useful starting point for navigating funding sources in the sector and subsequently recommends that you visit the funder’s website directly to explore the latest information. With support from the Historic Houses Foundation, the two organisations have combined their funding directories to provide around 400 updated listings detailing sources of grants from trusts and foundations, as well as organisations offering loans, awards, scholarships, and other resources.
Andrew Lloyd Webber warns we are at ‘point of no return’ over struggling arts sector
Musical theatre legend, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has warned that the arts sector is at “the point of no return” as it continues to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Independent reveals. Webber wants the government to allow theatres to reopen urgently, he has been trialling measures at the London Palladium that could allow British theatres to reopen. A production of Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera was able to go ahead in South Korea with strict hygiene measures and no social distancing. Webber said “I’m absolutely confident that the air in the London Palladium and in all my theatres is purer than the air outside,” Webber told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
Culture in The House
John McNally, the Scottish National Party MP for Falkirk, asked the following written question of interest:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether the Government plans to allocate a proportion of the £1.57 billion funding for cultural, arts and heritage institutions to direct support for (a) performers and (b) technicians and craftspeople who work on performances.”
Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Culture and Digital, responded with:
“DCMS recognises the crucial role that individuals play in the UK’s events industry, and that the Covid-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge to many individuals operating in this sector.
The Secretary of State announced an unprecedented £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of cultural and creative sectors. This package will benefit craftspeople by providing support to Arts, Cultural, and Heritage organisations to stay open and continue operating.
To complement the funding for organisations made available by Government, Arts Council England (ACE) have announced £95m of additional support for individuals, including freelancers. This involves:
- an additional £75m in project grants. These will be focused on applications that maximise employment opportunities and those from under-represented groups. Freelancers and National Portfolio Organisations are eligible to apply directly. National Portfolio Organisations can also apply to create new work with bids that create employment opportunities prioritised.
- A further round of the ACE programme ‘Discover Your Creative Practice’ will open in the autumn. This will make approximately £18m available for individuals looking to develop new creative skills that will help them to further develop their career.
- ACE will also be adding £2m into relevant benevolent funds to support those less well supported by the programmes outlined above, including stage managers and technicians.
We are committed to continuing to work with the events sector to understand the difficulties they face and help them access support through these challenging times and through recovery.”
In the week ahead
Lord Kennedy of Southwark, will be debating the following oral question in the House of Lords, 12.00 pm Wednesday 16 September: “Ensuring the new planning system will improve building standards, safety, environmental impacts, and the well-being of residents”
Coronavirus and the Government’s emergency measures
Boris Johnson has announced measures that have now come into force, meaning people can only meet socially in groups of no more than 6 – and if you do so, you will be breaking the law. This rule will apply in any setting, indoors or outdoors, at home or in the pub. The law will be enforced by the police and anyone breaking the rules can risk being fined, and possibly arrested. The announcement comes as officials are alarmed by the latest rise in COVID-19 cases, newly diagnosed cases have topped 2,000 for the past three days, this means the average rate of new infections in now four times higher than it was in mid-July.
The UK government’s most senior lawyer – Jonathan Jones – resigned as head of the government’s legal department. Jones’ departure was prompted by new published legislation, which aims to create the legal underpinning of a UK internal market after the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31. Ministers say the legislation is necessary to ensure the “seamless functioning” of the internal market after the UK has departed the EU single market and is free from rules and standards set in Brussels. But the bill has sparked outrage from the Scottish, Welsh governments, and the EU, because some elements of the bill legally overwrite sections of the withdrawal agreement agreed with Brussels last year.
The bill grants ministers sweeping legal powers to override two key parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, which Boris Johnson agreed last October, to avoid a return to a hard border in Ireland. The key parts include the requirement to notify Brussels of any state-aid decisions that might impact goods trade in Northern Ireland and a requirement for businesses to complete export summary declarations when sending goods from the region to Great Britain. Legal experts said the legislation was broader then indicated by government as the new powers are not contingent on a “no deal” outcome. Moreover, the government has admitted that its plan will break international law, the Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, said in the House of Commons: “Yes, this does break international law in a very specific and limited way. We’re taking the powers to disapply the EU law concept of direct effect… in a certain very tightly defined circumstance.”
This has two serious implications; one is that it could potentially damage the UK’s credibility and trust in negotiating any future free-trade agreements; secondly, when casting Britain’s post-Brexit role in the world as bastions of liberal democracy whilst simultaneously – and openly – breaking international rule of law, it does not bode well for being able to criticise China when it disregards treaties to uphold the rule of law in Hong Kong. Finally, it has provoked a strong reaction from the EU and has given them a reason to walk away from trade negotiations. As it stands, post-Brexit trade talks will continue, but the EU has demanded the UK ditches plans to alter the Withdrawal Agreement by the end of the month or it will risk jeopardising trade talks. Furthermore, the EU has said this has “seriously damaged trust” and it would not be “shy” of taking legal action against the UK. This means there will be no chance of a trade deal unless the UK withdraws the legislation, which may have been legislated to signal Boris Johnson is not afraid to walk away from negotiations and face a no-deal scenario. Concerned Conservative MPs have also attempted to amend the new law by making the proposed legislation having to pass a vote in the House of Commons, but ministers say they will not give way.
“And Parliament supported the Withdrawal Agreement earlier on this year. He has made promises and signed a treaty around these arrangements for Northern Ireland, and he now seems to be backing out of that.”