COVID-19 forced the closure of museums, galleries, cinemas, music venues, nightclubs, theatres, arts centres, archives and heritage sites from the 23 March 2020, with many not due to reopen until summer 2021. Even when they can reopen they are likely to have reduced visitor capacity. The Government’s answer to supporting these cultural institutions and businesses was the Culture Recovery Fund. This was a £1.57 billion fund of grants and loans designed to support only 75 per cent of these struggling businesses and organisations.
In Hackney South and Shoreditch many organisations benefitted from the fund including the Hackney Empire, Graeae Theatre, St Anne’s and St John’s churches in Hoxton, the Castle Cinema, Hoxton Hall, Turning Earth Ceramics and Paper Dress Vintage. I’ll be featuring some of our creative and cultural businesses in future reports – do let me know if you have one you think should be highlighted and why. See a full list by clicking the pdf link below.
The Public Accounts Committee pressed officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) about how this money was spent and its plans to support this industry throughout the next stages of the pandemic. The committee also pressed officials on the issue of self-employed workers (many of whom work in the cultural industries) who’ve been locked out of all Government support since the beginning of the pandemic. The most senior civil servant at DCMS pointed to the success of the Cultural Recovery Fund in supporting some freelancers (via support for institutions) but recognised that many still fell through the gaps. See here for a letter from the head of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HRMC), Jim Harra, explaining the rationale behind the design of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. I’ll continue standing up for those workers locked out of all Government support.