The TUC is today (Monday) issuing a joint call with its culture sector trade unions calling on Oliver Dowden to urgently set out plans for distribution of the £1.5bn financial rescue package for the arts.
The joint call follows sectoral discussions between unions and the tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire about the future of the industry and the imminent danger of closing for many smaller cultural organisations.
The tourism sector and culture sectors are jointly worth £21bn per year to Yorkshire’s economy, according to recent figures, and unions urgently want to avert jobs losses among the quarter of a million people employed in the sector in our region.
Concerns have been raised that smaller operators, such as regional theatres, music organisations and tech providers, as well as self employed artists would miss out in favour of big institutions.
Support is needed for venues to open outdoor spaces, to allow for more social distancing, and provide an experience that can extend open air events into the winter months.
TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams said:
“The £1.5bn rescue package is very welcome, and a sincere relief to our members whose jobs are hanging in the balance.
“But a now two week delay in announcing how the money will be shared out, and a lack of clarity about who will be eligible, means that employers are still having to consider redundancies, and self employed artists are facing bankruptcy.
“This deal has got to work for the whole sector, from printmakers in Sheffield and the York Theatre Royal, up to national galleries.
“The Minister must issue details about how the aid package will be disbursed immediately, and ensure no creative is left behind.
“The importance of keeping these jobs, as well as the benefits of artistic consumption for mental health and wellbeing, as working people take more staycations, is incalculable.”
Theresa Easton of Artists’ Union England said:
"Our members are experiencing real financial hardship in a sector already suffering precarious self-employment and low pay. It is imperative any rescue package includes all jobs in the sector, particularly those that have the least financial cushion and economic security".
Dominic Bascombe of Equity said:
“The announcement of government support for the arts was rightly welcomed. However each day that passes without its distribution means another nail in the demise of the creative and cultural sector across Yorkshire. We urgently need to see how the proposed £1.57bn will be distributed so that more venues are not pushed into making their staff redundant or simply closing.
“It is particularly important that this money also reaches the freelance and self employed creatives who were the driving force in campaigning for this support. Support for the arts cannot be restricted to the largest producers and venues, but must include the actors, dancers, stage management, singers, comedians, variety artists, directors, designers, choreographers and many other highly skilled workers in our talent base that contribute to the £21bn Yorkshire economy.”