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• Up to 2 in 5 jobs in the West Midlands at risk
• £42 million emergency fund needed for cultural workers excluded from present government support

Cultural unions in the Midlands have today called for the establishment of an emergency fund to support cultural workers who have slipped through the current Covid-19 employment support net.

In a new report, the unions suggest that the government’s £1.57bn ‘Cultural Recovery Fund’ (CRF) has been too limited in scope meaning that job losses continue to devastate the sector and needs reform to support jobs.

Pointing to predictions that around 2 in 5 cultural jobs will be lost due to the pandemic, the unions suggest that a regional fund of £42million should be created using CRF finance to ease the financial pressures faced by thousands of cultural workers in the midlands.

The report goes on to outline actions needed in the medium term, such as a call for regional stakeholders to commit to a Midlands TV and film studio. The report suggest that the region’s cultural economy has historically failed to reach its full potential due to a lack of strategic vision and has lost out to competitor UK city regions such as London, Manchester and Cardiff.  

Stephen Brown, TUC Midlands Cultural & Leisure Industries Chair and Musicains’ Union Regional Organiser said:

 “The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for our members. There is no doubt this has been the hardest year I can ever remember for both the fortunes and mental well-being of our cultural workforce.

“We now have an opportunity to address this and give the cultural sector and all those who work in it some hope for the future. This can be achieved if everyone in the cultural sector pulls together and uses the valuable report we’ve complied on the state of our sector as the springboard for the discussions around what type of recovery we want.

“Our sector cannot afford not to do this, and Government cannot afford to ignore us.”

TUC Midlands Regional Secretary, Lee Barron said:   

“Culture is vital. Both for our economy and mental wellbeing. Regionally the cultural sector has too often been overlooked by policy makers. This lack of vision has frustrated our attempts to maximise our potential.

“And now, following a decade of underinvestment and poor strategic vision, the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to sink the arts in the midlands with around 2 in 5 jobs predicted to be lost in the West Midlands. 

“”We need action. Now.

The government must plug the gaps in the inadequate support system for the sector. And we need to get our act together regionally to ensure the midlands emerges from this crisis in a way that enables it to flourish and not fall further behind other city-regions that have taken the lead in recent years.”

Editors note

- Read the full Freelancers and the cultural recovery out of Covid-19 in the West Midlands

- The TUC Midlands CLIC Cultural Manifesto outlines many of the longer term needs for the regional sector

- The 2 in 5 prediction for cultural sector job losses in the West Midlands is from research by  Oxford Economics for the Creative Industries Federation

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) in the Midlands exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 1 million working people who make up our 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

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