Weekly round-up of the latest from Westminster and beyond, from our partners at Whitehouse Consultancy.
Covid-19 Impact on DCMS Sectors
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee oral session on The impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors: Creative Industries
You can watch the meeting here, as well as view the transcript here. Caroline Dinenage, the Minister for Digital and Culture, revealed DCMS is “putting together for Treasury, a bid where we look at three things: rescue, recovery and renewal. It is rescuing those who are in dire straits, recovering the sector more broadly and then looking at how we move forward into the future and are able to face those future challenges. That is where we are at the moment.”
Dinenage mentioned how they are not yet ready to reveal the package of further measures to support the industry, as with the proposals need to be approved by the Treasury. But, the minister did reveal they have had very positive conversations with the Treasury and No. 10 about both understanding the importance of protecting the sector.
Long-term deal for arts and culture?
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden: ‘I will not see our world-leading arts and culture destroyed’
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said his passion lies in the art and culture sector opposed to digital or sport. In the interview, Dowden discussed how he has spoken to more than 120 arts institutions to gain a better understanding of what the sector needs, which will help to guide the Cultural Renewal Taskforce. Dowden also promised he would save the arts with a bailout of some kind, but he is pushing for a long-term deal, whilst the Treasury is focusing on the help over the short-term, so it might take longer than wanted to secure.
Arts Index Survey
A report, compiled by the National Campaign for the Arts in association with the Creative Industries Federation and King’s College London, has revealed that public funding for the arts per head of population fell by 35 per cent since 2008, with local government investment being cut.
The report found that business sponsorship of the arts is down 39 per cent since 2013, which it says equates to “tens of millions of pounds” disappearing from the arts economy.
The report’s analysis starts at 2008 and the financial crash, and it subsequently covers up to 2018, detailing the eight years of austerity. Another key finding is that arts organisations have become increasingly reliant on earned income (such as box office sales and venue hires), making up a 47 per cent increase since 2008.
In the Guardian, Samuel West, the Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts, said “Arts organisations rose to the challenge following the financial crash; we salute them for increasing earned income in response to a triple whammy of cuts to public funding, business sponsorship and philanthropic giving”.
Culture in the House
Written Questions of interest
Tracy Brabin MP tabled the following written question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will publish the remit, terms of reference and objectives of the Cultural Renewal Taskforce and the Commissioner for Cultural Recovery.”
Caronline Dinenage Minister for Digital and Culture answered saying:
“The Cultural Renewal Taskforce has been established to support the renewal of DCMS sectors and to help develop new COVID-19 secure guidelines for the reopening of public places and businesses in these sectors, where and when it is safe to do so. The focus of the Taskforce’s work is on:
- ensuring that COVID-19 secure guidelines are developed in line with the phasing ambitions and public health directions, building on the existing (work settings) guidance and providing intelligence and sector-specific expert input;
- developing creative solutions, including digital solutions, to drive the return of sectors whilst maintaining consistency with the medical advice;
- agreeing and ensuring alignment of all relevant sectoral guidance; and
- providing key sector stakeholders direct access to ministers.
The role of Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal has been established to provide the Government with an expert and independent voice on the cultural sectors, and to advise on how culture and heritage in the United Kingdom can begin the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further information about the Taskforce, including its purpose can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/culture-secretary-announces-cultural-renewal-taskforce.”
Coronavirus and the Government’s emergency measures
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has told magistrates to extend their opening hours and accelerate protest-related cases, the Times reports. The plan, with collaboration from Home Secretary Priti Patel, will lead to offenders being jailed within 24 hours of being arrested. Furthermore, a consultation on doubling maximum sentences for assaults on emergency workers to a duration of two years will be published.
Boris Johnson is considering halving the two-metre social-distancing restriction to allow schools in England to reopen fully by September, the Mirror reports. The decision would also make it much easier for pubs to reopen in July, but it could spark controversy, as government advisors say people face the same risk from six seconds at one metre away as a full minute at the two-metre distance. Pressure has been mounting as numerous Tory backbenchers want the Prime Minister to scrap the two-metre rule, including former leader Iain Duncan Smith and Damian Green.
Finally, shops in England, including those offering cloths, toys, books and electronics, are now allowed to open their doors to customers again. Shops that do reopen must meet the Government’s COVID-19 secure guidelines, these include showing customers they are aware of safety measures, putting protective coverings on large items, and frequent cleaning of regularly touched surfaces.