£330k emergency fund for authors affected by Covid-19

20 Mar 2020

The slush fund is the latest urgent funding measure to support imperilled freelancers.

Calls for freelancer income protection fund

20 Mar 2020

Creative professionals are calling for a "time-limited and carefully targeted" income protection fund for freelance workers.

An open letter from the Creative Industries Federation, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) to Prime Minster Boris Johnson says "we understand the government is due to announce a further employment support package in the coming days".

"We are calling on the government to implement a Temporary Income Protection Fund specifically for the self-employed as part of this package.

"As you have recently stated, this is not just a health crisis but an economic crisis. The income of freelancers up and down the country is at immediate risk, threatening their ability to keep their businesses alive and cover basic living costs like rent, bills and food."

Forty sector organisations representing most artforms have signed, as has the Arts Council of Wales.


Opera members take pay cut to protect colleagues

20 Mar 2020

Musicians at Chicago's Lyric Opera have voted to receive less than full pay so ring cycle members can receive a weekly paycheck until the end of the performance season in May.

A statement from the musicians said:

"Allowing the extra musicians to go without a paycheck was simply unacceptable to the orchestra. For the past four years, regular and extra musicians have worked side-by-side. 

"For the Musicians of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra, the choice was clear: they must care for their entire Ring orchestra family."

Houston Grand Opera has committed to paying its artists 50% of their salaries: "Everyone from our star performers to the ushers will be supported during this uncertain time."

Peter Gelb, General Manager of New York's Metropolitan Opera, has waived his salary, while higher-paid administrative staff are taking pay cuts. Full-time union employees have been offered pay through March.


BBC launches Culture in Quarantine

19 Mar 2020

The BBC has launched 'Culture in Quarantine', an arts and culture initiative across radio, television and digital platforms.

Guides to closed exhibitions, collections, performances and festivals will be made available through the BBC's channels. Arts Council England and other national funders and producing bodies are helping with delivery.

It is part of the broadcaster's wider move to reflect the "challenging times" ahead and provide more coronavirus-related content.

Lord Tony Hall said "there will be disruption to our output along the way, but we will do our very best".

The changes include:

  • A daily coronavirus podcast and weekly prime-time coronavirus special on BBC One
  • The One Show will be used as a consumer programme providing advice on all aspects of the crisis
  • Health Check UK Live - a daily BBC One programme - will address concerns of viewers in isolation
  • Regular phone-ins on Radio 5 Live
  • A virtual church service on Sundays
  • Educational programmes, new iPlayer content and news bulletins for children

Every local radio station will also join up with local volunteer groups to help co-ordinate support for the elderly, housebound or at-risk.

DCMS leads mass volunteering push

19 Mar 2020

DCMS is leading a major volunteering drive to support the civil sector during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Bodies such as the National Council of Volunteering Organisations (NCVO), British Red Cross and National Emergencies Trust are being closely supported, the Government says.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "I know that many people across the country are wondering how they can help those who are more vulnerable – whether that’s delivering food to those isolating or simply being around for a chat on the phone.

"I have been so encouraged by how the British public, alongside our brilliant charities and volunteers, are rising to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and supporting each other at this challenging time."

More details on the Government’s plans and how individuals and organisations can take part will be announced soon.

£330bn Covid-19 package 'not enough help to freelancers'

18 Mar 2020

Plans are in place for Government-backed loans, but sector leaders say they fail to support the freelance arts workforce.

Covid-19: Funders pledge flexibility to save the sector

18 Mar 2020

Grant funding will be ‘refocussed’ as freelancers rally to support each other – but there may not be enough cash to go around. 

Culture Secretary forced to self-isolate

18 Mar 2020

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been forced to self-isolate after one of his family members showed symptoms of the coronavirus.

Dowden tweeted that he would remain at home in line with Government advice.

"I’m feeling fine and will of course be working on DCMS priorities in these very challenging times."

Glastonbury is cancelled

18 Mar 2020

Glastonbury Festival 2020, the event's 50th anniversary, has been cancelled.

It is the first major UK festival to be called off and could trigger further festival cancellations across Europe.

Organisers apologised to 135,000 pre-paid ticketholders: "We understand that it is not always easy to secure a Glastonbury ticket, which is why we would like to offer all those people the chance to roll their £50 deposit over to next year, and guarantee the opportunity to buy a ticket for Glastonbury 2021."

"Again, we’re so sorry that this decision has been made. It was not through choice."

Digital festival goes online only

18 Mar 2020

Leeds Digital Festival, the UK's largest tech festival, is hosting its spring event online.

Organisers have postponed holding a physical festival until the autumn: "However! We're a digital festival and we still need to support each other, still need to learn, still need to show off the amazing people, companies and innovation we have in the city and the wider region," a statement said.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Connecting online during social distancing

"After last night’s Government press conference, we’ve now decided that the best and safest course of action is to postpone a physical Festival until the autumn; we’ll see how the next few weeks develop before we announce a date."

ACW delays funding conditions for three months

18 Mar 2020

The Arts Council of Wales (ACW) has delayed funding conditions for its portfolio for three months.

Advice issued late on Tuesday says ACW is still not sure what form its support for the sector might take: "The scale of the problem is beyond our financial resources alone."

"We’re urgently exploring with the Welsh Government what financial support might be available to mitigate the effects of closures, cancellations and loss of income."

Like Arts Council England, ACW says project grants will be honoured regardless of whether the activity is delivered. However, it is asking organisations to stick to the usual processes and timescales for applications.

"If you’re successful in your application, we’ll contact you to see if you need to amend your plans in the light of Government advice at that time. We’ll try and find ways of helping you to realise your plans, but if that’s not possible you can choose to withdraw from your funding award."

Covid-19: Connecting online during social distancing

A man sitting with a macbook on his lap while wearing headphones
17 Mar 2020

As the sector turns to technology, here’s what you need to know about running online-only events.

Stroud venue's staff offered redundancy

17 Mar 2020

Workers at a 186-year-old entertainment venue in Stroud have been offered redundancy.

Subscription Rooms, which runs music and comedy gigs, will temporarily close. A £29,000 grant from local authorities last year is "not sufficient to continue to trade," a Stroud Town Council document says.

The report says: "One important learning point is that there should have been more work in shifting the culture of organisation away from the previous council environment, which was very much focused on minimis[ing] expenditure, rather than community engagement and involvement."

Stroud Town and District councils said running costs have already been cut by 25% but more must be done.

"The [Subscription Rooms'] Trust are reviewing the staff structure to make sure they can afford to pay the people they need to survive."

Britain's theatres go dark

17 Mar 2020

Britain's theatres are closed until further notice, sector bodies have announced.

More than 300 theatres and concert halls across the country have gone dark for the first time since World War 2.

UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) say ticketholders will be refunded: "The magic of theatre lies in its live performances and it is not something that can be experienced in the same way remotely."

But ticketholders were urged to consider foregoing their refunds to mitigate the financial impact for small, charitably funded venues.

Many art galleries are open on a by-arrangement only basis; as yet there is no unilateral response from the visual arts sector.

Museums too are closing: all Tate institutions will shut until May. 

The Museums Association has postponed three conferences and is asking staff to work from home. Director Sharon Heal said "the bigger issue will be the medium and long-term impact".

"Many museums operate with tight financial margins and even a few weeks loss of income could seriously undermine their business models. We would appeal to Government and funders to provide financial support and emergency funding for institutions that are effected by the epidemic; and also ask funders to operate flexibility in terms of delivery of currently funded projects.”

Plans for UK's biggest stadium revealed

16 Mar 2020

A £350m indoor arena planned for Manchester would be the largest in the UK.

OVG, the firm behind the scheme, insists Manchester can sustain a second stadium despite the protestations of the existing 21,000 seat Manchester Arena. The 23,500 capacity development is expected to host about 120 sporting and cultural events a year and provide more than 1000 jobs once completed in 2023.

Chief Executive Tim Leiweke said the city "deserves a new arena".

"Most of the big markets have two, three or four arenas. If you look at London when the O2 was built many people predicted the demise of Wembley Arena, but they've just had he best year they've ever had.

"People can have opinions on whether the market needs two but the reality is we're the ones taking the risk."

Tate Modern worker tests positive

16 Mar 2020

A Tate Modern staffer has tested positive for the coronavirus, The Art Newspaper reports.

They only worked one day while infectious - March 2 - and are now self-isolating. The person does not work in a front-of-house role and came into contact with "a small number" of people, the institution says.

The Tate Modern remained open to visitors on Monday morning.

Edinburgh Festival events to be streamed online

13 Mar 2020

Edinburgh International Festival has cancelled all launch events, opting instead to livestream them as Covid-19 spreads.

Opening events in London and Edinburgh will be online-only, broadcast live on 18 March. Audiences will be able to post questions to the to the programming team, the organisation says.

Ticketholders who cannot attend any festival event because of the coronavirus will be eligible for a full refund.


The show must go on? Increasing cancellations due to Covid-19

13 Mar 2020

Sector bodies have thanked audiences for continuing to attend shows as a growing number of performances, tours and events are cancelled and postponed.

Ireland's cultural institutions closed over coronavirus

12 Mar 2020

Cultural institutions in the Republic of Ireland will close for a fortnight from 6pm on Thursday as the country responds to the coronavirus outbreak.

Premier Leo Varadkar's announcement that all schools, colleges and childcare facilities will close also affects state-run cultural institutions like the National Gallery, National Library, Cork Opera House and Abbey Theatre.

Indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor meetings of more than 500 people will be cancelled.

Stratford Circus Arts Centre fights closure

12 Mar 2020

Stratford Circus Arts Centre is fighting plans by Newham Council that it says will force it to close.

The council wants to expand its Stratford 'Youth Zone'. The centre says this will remove it from its base of more than 10 years and "mean the loss of a successful and financial sound cultural and community organisation".

Newham Council wants to double its youth offer as part of a 2018 pledge by Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz. A recent council document says the Youth Zones "are not buildings; they are defined areas within Newham where a range of activities take place ... based on the needs of young people".

Stratford Circus says it already provides creative learning programmes to about 10,000 young people a year.

CEO Tania Wilmer said: "We are particularly proud of our youth work and had hoped to continue our dialogue with the council on expanding this."


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