HomeFeaturesCultural Policy Readout / 21 July 2020

Weekly round-up of the latest from Westminster and beyond, from our partners at Whitehouse Consultancy.

Design Council partner with Sustrans to deliver active travel neighbourhoods

The partnership comes shortly after the Design Council’s recently launched strategy 2020-24, which sets out three key priorities:

  • improving health, wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities;
  • enabling sustainable living, focusing in particular on climate change; and
  • increasing design skills to respond to major challenges and contribute to the economy.

Design Council and Sustrans will use their combined research, insight and thinking to influence the UK Government’s housing and planning policies and garden communities work. This will aim to ensure neighbourhoods stimulate physical activity and mental wellbeing. Both organisations are eager to maximise the housing growth agenda, with healthy placemaking at its core.

One-third of freelance theatre workers are considering leaving the industry

Results have been published from the Big Freelancers Survey, conducted by Stage Directors UK, Freelancers Make Theatre Work and Curtain Call in light of the Government’s emergency funding not covering freelancers in the creative industries. The research reveals that a quarter of freelance theatre workers have been unable to access emergency income of any kind and a third are considering leaving the industry, according to the survey of more than 8,000 participants. The research also revealed that 36 per cent of the freelance workforce in the performing arts received no support from the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme or Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The report warns that the industry would require about £672 million to undo the effects of the “rescue deficit” experienced by an estimated 65,000 workers in the sector. This will widen if the commercial sector is offered a financial package without the benefit being passed on to freelancers. The report recommends a new seed-funding strand to sustain the workforce, accessible by all skilled theatre workers and a single-entry-point recovery fund that could be administered by the Arts Council.

Culture in the House

Wera Hobhouse MP asked the following written question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make it his policy to replenish the Art Council England funds that have been diverted to the emergency covid-19 response.”

Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister for Digital and Culture responded with:

DCMS has worked closely with its arm’s-length bodies to deliver tailored support packages at speed, including the £160m Emergency Funding Package announced by Arts Council England (ACE) in March. In providing immediate support for this vital sector, it was necessary for ACE to make decisions on how existing budgets could be reprioritised, in light of the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19.

DCMS will continue to support ACE in its hugely important role in supporting and developing England’s arts and culture, including in its upcoming role in the delivery of the £1.57 billion of new funding announced on 5 July, to provide support for key organisations across the cultural, heritage and creative sectors.”

Covid Update 

Health Minister Matt Hancock announced that, starting from Friday 24 July, facemasks will be compulsory in shops across England. Scotland have already taken this step and Northern Ireland are also following suit. This legislation comes after mounting pressure on Boris Johnson to change the public advice as concerns heighten over the risk of COVID-19 spreading over the next 10 days as lockdown is eased.  Enforcement, which will include a fine of up to £100 for breaking the rules, will be down to police, but shop staff will be expected to encourage the policy.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the government’s next goals to stop the spread of the virus and protect the NHS. This includes new powers to tackle local outbreaks opposed to reinstating a nation-wide lockdown again – as seen in Leicester – and will give councils the ability to intervene to shutdown outdoor spaces and premises at short notice.

The week ahead…

Housing, Communities and Local Government oral questions. Whitehouse will monitor for any relevant questions around placemaking and Pioneering Places related issues.

House of Commons is going into recess on 22 July 2020 until 1 September 2020.

Whitehouse Consultancy

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