chancellor's budget

Chancellor’s budget to provide £400 million for arts and culture

The Chancellor’s budget statement has provided £400 million in support of the UK’s arts and culture sector.

The Chancellor’s budget will see £300 million poured into the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which previously stood at £1.57 billion and provides support for everything from live music venues to historical sites. An additional £90 million will be awarded to national museums and cultural bodies, while another £20 million will be given to community cultural projects. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Throughout the crisis we have done everything we can to support our world-renowned arts and cultural industries, and it’s only right that we continue to build on our historic package of support for the sector.” 

It is unclear as yet exactly how the £400 million for arts and culture will be utilised, but leading figures from across the live music and events industry have urged the Chancellor to do everything in his power to ensure live music can return this summer in line with last week’s COVID-19 road map announcement. 

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UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said that the Chancellor’s budget must “deliver the best of British sounds this summer and ensure live music is back to lift our spirits and help drive the post-pandemic recovery”.

He continued: “We need the existing jobs support schemes, the business rate relief and the 5% VAT rate on ticket sales to continue until the music industry is back on its feet. The hugely welcome £1.57 billion Cultural Relief Fund should also continue.  

“Critically, we must have a Government-backed insurance scheme so event organisers can plan with certainty and avoid financial ruin if Covid-19 forces fresh cancellations. With no insurance available, the risk of putting on events in June and July will be too great for many organisers to bear.

“If we fail to follow other governments that are offering insurance schemes to safeguard live music and events, the UK runs the risk of standing at the side of the dance-floor as other nations party through the summer.”

Keith Watson, pro audio veteran and #WeMakeEvents steering group member, also outlined his hopes for the Chancellor’s budget. 

“There are a number of things that we think the government should be focusing on in their upcoming budget,” he told Audio Media International “First is to provide grants, not loans, to businesses in the industry,” he continued. “We did a survey that found 34 per cent of companies don’t think they’ll last until June. 

“The second is that we need protection for freelancers – over 70 per cent of people working in the industry are freelancers or self-employed, many of which weren’t eligible for financial support. 

“Lastly, so that promoters and festival owners can take the jump and put on new events, we need government-funded insurance, as the risk of putting on an event is so high that nobody wants to take that risk.”

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that live music and concert halls could open by May 17, with all social distancing measures lifting on June 21. It was also noted that these are earliest possible dates and that they are subject to change should COVID-19 infection rates rise.

More to follow.

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