Culture in crisis

visitors to a museum during the pandemic wearing facemasks
02 Feb 2022

Ben Walmsley reports on the key findings from a 15-month research project into the effects of the pandemic on the cultural sector.

£10m jobs and skills fund in Northern Ireland

02 Feb 2022

Northern Ireland’s creative industries are set to benefit from a share of a £10m jobs and skills fund.

The Covid Recovery Programme Employment & Skills Initiative will support community services, including arts, heritage and creative industries, in their recovery from Covid-19.

The three-year commitment is the first multi-year investment into these industries' recovery in Northern Ireland and a direct response to the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce Report commissioned by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.

Hargey said the initiative will fund new entry level jobs and increase the capacity of existing staff.

“This should bolster organisations to better survive and thrive post pandemic,and therefore help stabilise these sectors to continue to deliver their services for the public good.”

New entrants eligible in latest Wales CRF

01 Feb 2022

The third round of Wales' Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) is open, with organisations that have not previously received support eligible to apply.

£15.4m is available in total, though £2.2m has already been awarded to over 88 applicants.

Businesses must prove their turnover fell by at least 50% during the past three months compared to the same period pre-pandemic.  

The Welsh Government's Cultural Recovery Fund is open to all cultural organisations and is separate to Arts Council of Wales' Cultural Recovery Fund, which is available to only arts organisations. 

The previous two rounds provided £93m to organisations and individuals across Wales' cultural sector.

“We are fully aware that these impacted sectors continue to face new pressures,” Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden said.

Applications close February 11.

Digital ‘no substitute’ to traditional libraries

01 Feb 2022

Most adults think digital services are an inadequate replacement for traditional libraries.

More than half (57%) expressed their preference for in-person services in a survey by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Just under a quarter (22%) agreed an online replacement was adequate.

The number of people using digital library services was up 11% last year on pre-pandemic levels, amounting to one fifth of all library users.

University of Glasgow professor David McMenemy, one of the research leads, said the findings suggest people missed libraries during the lockdowns.

"They are also social spaces at the heart of communities."

Digital award winners embrace new audiences

27 Jan 2022

Those who showcased best practice in digital leadership did so by addressing the challenges of the pandemic.

Yes, CRF grants are taxable

27 Jan 2022

Income tax on Culture Recovery Fund and other emergency grants is due next week - a shock to some following mixed messages from the Government.

Ministers intially said the grants would not be taxable, and HMRC appeared to confirm this after arts professionals questioned an email from Arts Council England suggesting otherwise.

The revenue department later backtracked, adding to the confusion.

The final line from HMRC below:

"Payments made from Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund fall into the taxable category if made for the purpose of replacing lost revenue of the claimants.  

"This is similar to the treatment of Self Employment Income Support Scheme payments and other Covid grants which have been made with the purpose of supporting businesses and jobs.”

Quarter of live music events cancelled

24 Jan 2022

More than a quarter (26%) of live music shows scheduled for the first three months of 2022 have been cancelled.

New research from industry lobby group LIVE says a “perfect storm” of Covid and Brexit have damaged public confidence.

Fear of further restrictions was cited as one of the main reasons for cancellations.

Concerns remain over Brexit, with 90% believing it will negatively affect the industry once markets fully reopen.

44% of upcoming shows featuring international artists have been cancelled. 

LIVE CEO Greg Parmley welcomed restrictions on live music venues coming to an end, but said the industry still faces serious challenges.

“It will take a long time for us to recover from the worst period in history of the industry and the Government need to fully understand the challenges we face.”

Summer events face 'pronounced' skills shortage

24 Jan 2022

Two thirds say they need to delay or cancel work as skilled workers are slow to return to the industry.

A is for absurd

20 Jan 2022

Taking the 'new normal' seriously means accepting some changes might need to stay. 

PM calls time on all Covid restrictions

19 Jan 2022

England's Plan B measures "expire" next week, Johnson says. Is this finally a return to normal?

Indoor restrictions to be lifted in Scotland

19 Jan 2022

Scotland will ease its Covid restrictions from Monday (January 24), removing limits on attendance at indoor events.

Nightclubs can reopen from the same date, coinciding with the end of social distancing requirements.

Scotland's Covid certifiaction scheme will be only be mandatory for entry to events of over 1,000 people. 

Organisers must check proof of vaccination or a negative lateral flow test for whichever is lower of 1,000 people or half an event's attendees. 

The Scottish Government says it stopped short of certifiaction checks at all venues because of the "significant fall" in Covid cases.

Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan said the restrictions, announced before Christmas, had effectively shut down the majority of theatres in Scotland. 

"It will be a huge relief to theatres, artists and audiences that they will soon be able to reopen."

Disabled creatives marginalised by lack of knowledge

performers from La Ribalta Theater take part in a production. four girls are on stage, one looking forward, three looking backwards, all wearing white dresses
17 Jan 2022

There’s better guidance in the UK, study suggests, but work remains to remove structural barriers across Europe. 

Theatre sectors welcome cuts to Covid isolation

14 Jan 2022

The theatre sector has welcomed a cut to the self-isolation period required following positive Covid tests.

From Monday (17 January), people in England will be able to leave isolation after negative lateral flow tests on day five and six.

It is hoped the reduction may alleviate ongoing pressure on productions, following a string of cancellations.

A spokeswoman from the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre said the decision will have a positive impact on theatres and productions.

“This announcement is welcome news for the theatre industry, which – like many sectors – has been struggling amid high rates of absence among its workforce.”

Wales loosens restrictions on events

14 Jan 2022

A plan to remove Covid restrictions in Wales has been mapped out by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Capacity limits on outdoor events in Wales will rise from 50 to 500 tomorrow (January 15) and be removed completely in a week’s time (January 21).

Nightclubs are scheduled to reopen from January 28, to coincide with the removal of social distancing requirements – a wait Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan called “disappointing”.

Covid passports will still be required for entry into nightclubs, events, cinemas, concert halls and theatres.

The Welsh Government says plans are in line with the latest public health data but depend on continued improvements.

Creu Cymru is pleased to see the roadmap in place, after estimating Welsh theatres lost up to £10m during the latest round of restrictions.

“Alongside the news of a further Culture Recovery Fund, this will go a long way to help a sector hugely affected by restrictions.”

Schools may have to suspend music teaching, DfE warns

12 Jan 2022

Professionals have voiced "real concerns" over the proposal, saying it would harm pupils more than it helps them.

Audiences lack confidence as cancellations abound

12 Jan 2022

Support for cutting the isolation period down to five days could alleviate pressure on productions but may not be enough to bring audiences back.

Wales adds £10m in emergency funding

12 Jan 2022

The Welsh Government has made another £10.1m of Culture Recovery Fund money available to organisations affected by recent restrictions.

The £15.4m scheme, which includes £5.25m in winter stability funding, is open for applications via the Arts Council of Wales today (January 12).

Events are currently capped at 30 people indoors and 50 outdoors, two metres' social distancing is required in public and where possible at work, and the rule of six applies to any group visiting a theatre, gallery, museum or cinema.

Eligibility for the fund hinges on demonstrating a financial loss since December. The arts council's Chair Phil George acknowledged arts organisations "are facing a period of serious financial challenge".

"We are determined to ensure that arts and cultural organisations who play a key role in the wellbeing of communities across Wales will be able to bring solace, delight and vision as we struggle with the pandemic and as we recover and rebuild. The need for this support has obviously become even more urgent as a result of the impact of the Omicron variant.”

Cinema crowdfunder hopes to prevent permanent closure

10 Jan 2022

The Electric Palace is facing permanent closure if a community appeal doesn't raise enough funds for it to reopen.

The independent cinema in Hastings received support from the BFI Cultural Support Fund at the start of the pandemic, but has since struggled with Covid related cancellations.

Co-Founder and Director Rebecca Marshall said it was forced to close through January as Omicron meant bookings and venue hire hit "an all time low".

A crowdfunding campaign hopes to generate enough funds to reopen the venue to reopen during its 20th anniversary year.

"We are a not-for-profit community interest company with a small team of part-time staff and 30 dedicated and brilliantly passionate volunteers... Without your support we will not be able to reopen the cinema," Marshall added.

London Art Fair postponed by Covid

10 Jan 2022

The 2022 edition of the London Art Fair has been postponed by three months.

Originally scheduled for January 19 to 23, the event will now take place April 20 to 24.

Organisers Immediate Live cited the "continued uncertainty and disruption" caused by a surge in Omicron cases as reason for the postponement.

"Whilst we could have continued with the event as planned within government guidelines, we are keen to deliver the best possible fair for our galleries, sponsors, partners and visitors," a statement reads.

Hosted at the Business Design Centre, the fair plans to showcase work from more than 100 galleries alongside a line-up of talks and workshops.

Leaders take top honours in New Years list

Peter Murray at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
07 Jan 2022

Over 90 arts professionals were recognised for services to the sector in 2021.


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