HomeResourcesPolicyCultural Policy Readout / 18 August 2020

AHRC and DCMS appoint 13 industry experts to lead COVID-19 recovery panel

The UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have announced the 13 experts who will sit upon a new Expert Advisory Panel, to help the creative industries navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel will be co-chaired by Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of AHRC, and Neil Mendoza, the recently appointed Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal.

The newly formed Expert Advisory Panel comprises: Professor Andrew Thompson, Arts and Humanities Research Council; Neil Mendoza, Oxford University; Dr Joanna Abeyie, Blue Moon; Dr Maria Balshaw, TATE; John Cassy, Factory 42; Professor Helen Chatterjee, University College London; Professor Andrew Chitty, Loughborough University London; Professor Edward Harcourt, Arts and Humanities Research Council; Imogen Heap, Recording Artist & multiple tech founder; Dr Chris Michaels, National Gallery; Neelay Patel, Digital Theatre; Sara Pepper, Cardiff University; Dr Jo Twist, UK Interactive Entertainment.

Members of the panel will bring together specialist insights to guide the AHRC/DCMS Joint Research Project. Members will attend monthly meetings between September 2020 – July 2021, with the main goal of providing a set of conclusive recommendations for the sector’s ongoing COVID-19 recovery. Specific areas of focus at the monthly forums will include:

  1. How the pandemic is paving the way toward new business models in the creative and cultural sector;
  2. Accelerated transformation in creative technology, regarding cultural production and consumption;
  3. Challenges and opportunities in adapting to digital consumption;
  4. How to accelerate the return to and COVID-19-proof live events;
  5. The monetisation of digital cultural offerings and content; and
  6. The connection between culture and quality of life, including mental health and well-being.

UK theatre faces £90 million losses as panto season is cut

Theatres’ battle for their survival continues to get harder with the cancellation of the 2020/21 pantomime season expected to cost the industry more than £90 million in lost revenue. Venues have revealed the severe box office losses they will endure without pantos in their schedule. Some have said that their annual pantomimes can provide almost 50 per cent of their yearly income in just over a month.

According to analysts TRG Arts, if all pantomimes were to be cancelled, the sector would lose £90 million in ticket and secondary sales. The absence of pantos in theatres schedules will have a huge knock-on effect for supplies and for the hundreds of freelancers hired to work on the shows each year, this category of worker has already struggled as a result of being ineligible for the government’s rescue package for the arts.

Guardian editorial advocates for UK to harness performing arts to help heal Britain

Guardian editorial makes the argument that despite the government’s £1.57bn rescue package the situation for the performing arts in the UK is still deteriorating. The government’s rescue package will save a number of organisations from permanent closure, but individuals are remain unsupported.

So far, there have been 5,000 job losses in theatre, up by 2,000 from early July, according to the arts union, Bectu. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 57 per cent of the arts and entertainment workforce are furloughed – the highest proportion of any industry surveyed. Unless the government steps in and extends the furlough scheme, there will be a wave of job losses in the autumn. Almost a third of arts organisations have reported they have less than three months’ cash left, and all of this is before considering the freelance artists, producers and technicians.

Covid Update

Lockdown has eased further since Saturday 15 August after being postponed from 1 August due to concerns about a slight spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in England. But last week, figures from the Office of the National Statistics showed this may be levelling off. Under the latest changes: Indoor theatre, music and performance venues will be able to reopen with socially distanced audiences; wedding receptions in the form of a sit-down meal for up to 30 guests will be permitted; the piloting of a small number of sporting events to test the safe return of spectators will resume; casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and soft play centres will be allowed to reopen; close contact beauty services will resume; and pilots will take place at conference venues ahead of the expected resumption of business events from 1 October at the earliest.

Among the announcements, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a series of tough new enforcement measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions. Fines for repeatedly not wearing face coverings where it is mandatory will be significantly increased. On the spot fines for hosting of facilitating illegal gatherings of more than 30 people will be introduced. According to the Times, fines of up to £3,200 for failure to wear facemasks for repeated offences, and on the spots fines of up to £10,000 for the organisers of illegal parties.

The government has launched trials of a second contact-tracing app using technology from Google and Apple, after it failed to build a homegrown app which failed. The new app will tell people whether they have been close to someone who has had COVID-19 and sends out alerts advising them to self-isolate. It is being trialled on the Isle of Wight followed shortly by the London Borough of Newham, there is not date set for a national rollout, this is concerning considering pupils are set to return to school as normal in September.

Whitehouse Consultancy

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