Open Letter to MPs – Arts & Culture In The West Midlands – Clarity Urgently Needed

The letter below is being sent to MPs from 1 July. Please feel free to share it widely and/or use as a template for your own communications with MPs.

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The arts and culture sector has been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic, and we continue to face uncertainty and hardship under the current restrictions.

‘’Due to the nature of COVID-19 restrictions, sectors reliant on events have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and restrictions in place on reopening. GVA in events-related sectors experienced a substantial decrease when the pandemic hit and lockdowns were implemented at the start of Q2 2020. GVA dropped by 50-60% for these sectors,…. The summer of 2020 saw a moderate uptick while restrictions were eased, but GVA for firms in the ‘Arts, entertainment, recreation and other services’ (AER) sector was still well below pre-pandemic levels, at around 60% of January 2019 levels.”*

We are pleased to see the recent report from The Events Research Programme, shows that the test events were extremely safe with only 28 positive cases in those tested out of over 50,000 attendees. The arts and cultural sector, including music and festivals are experts at keeping our audiences and participants safe and will continue to do so under Covid Restrictions.

In a recent survey of organisations and individuals in the region, the delay to the lifting of restrictions on events has meant that two-thirds of organisations are expecting less income, with nearly all making losses on limited capacity events and activities.

20% have had events and activities cancelled, which has a significant impact on the freelance workforce and supply chains as well as the organisations.

The ongoing uncertainty and restrictions are impacting audiences who are more reluctant to book and attend.

Now that we know the results of the Events Research Programme, and as we face the reduction in support, including Business rates relief and Furlough, we are asking for you to make the following representations to Government.

  • Urgent Clarity on sector-specific requirements and measures (including testing, certification, masks and social distancing) for events and activities post 19th July 2021.
  • Earlier confirmation of the 19th July date for the lifting of capacity limits
  • Urgent release of the next round of Cultural Recovery Fund
  • Extension of business rates relief for affected sectors

As a region, we are currently hosting Coventry City of Culture 2021 and Birmingham 2022 next year, with a potential 1.3bn economic boost to the region. There is a significant risk that without investment and support, the region’s talented and world-renowned arts and cultural sector will not be able to participate, engage and capitalise on these opportunities with a disastrous knock-on effect for the wider region’s economy,

We ask that you please provide this clarity, guidance and resource NOW, in order to help us to deliver connecting, healing and uplifting creative activity for our country.

 

Erica Love  – Director, Culture Central

Nick Reed – Chair, West Midlands Music Board

 

 

*Quote from Events Research Findings, phase 1 report.