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Support for the creative industries

July 19, 2020 9:15 PM
By Ellen Nicholson
Originally published by Babergh South Suffolk Liberal Democrats
psaw (Thanks to Renee Fisher for sharing their work on Unsplash.)

The arts in Wiltshire covers a wide range of creative opportunities including visual arts and crafts, media arts, performing arts and literature. Think Trowbridge Arts, together, The Drawing project, Live music venues, Warminsters's athenaeum centre, Mere's literary festival and even with those few examples you're just touching a small range of the creativity across South West Wiltshire. Covid-19, lockdown and the impending funding crisis has put this rich sector of our heritage and society in question.

Leonardo da Vinci wrote "principles for the development of a complete mind, that studying the science of art enabled aperson to develop their senses - and to learn to see that everything connects to everything else." (paraphrased)

Recently elected Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper ( Pictured below) has said the £120m of taxpayers' money promised by the government for a "Festival of Brexit" in 2022 would be better diverted to existing cultural events to offer support to the creative industries, which employed 2 million people and made an annual contribution to the economy of more than £110bn last year, but now risks emerging depleted from the Covid-19 crisis.

A £1.57bn emergency coronavirus package provided by the Government, earlier this month has done nothing for thousands of small businesses and freelancers within the arts industry who have been excluded from support, she said.

"The UK's creative industries went into the Covid-19 pandemic as world leaders, but without the necessary recovery support, they will emerge smaller, weaker and with lasting damage," said Ms Cooper.

"But with so much continuing uncertainty, the government must step in to prevent a cultural catastrophe and protect people's livelihoods from the twin threats of Covid and Brexit.

"The government's support package was welcome, but the details remain unclear and still nothing has been done to help support the thousands of small businesses and freelancers who have been left penniless."

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The Lib Dem "agenda for immediate survival, recovery and renewal" for the creative industries includes:

  • Inclusion of creative workers in government support schemes;
  • Reallocation of funds for the Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to existing festivals and events;
  • Unconditional reset grants to help existing micro-businesses in the sector get going again;
  • Reform of the apprenticeship scheme and levy to keep the £55m paid by the sector within the sector;
  • The targeting of new training and vocational courses to areas suffering significant redundancies;
  • Retention of "gold standard" intellectual property and data protections, currently guaranteed under EU laws.
This approach was supported by the director of the British Arts Festivals Association (BAFA), Fiona Goh, who said the money would be better spent sustaining the existing network of cultural experiences across the country, most of which have been cancelled this year with many feared never to return.

Wiltshire Council provides an arts service which aims to help and encourage everybody in the community to have equal access to a range of high quality arts opportunities, whether as participants or audiences.

The arts service hosts its own blog The Arts In Wiltshire. The blog is used to help identify and share opportunities and ideas that come to the arts service from the arts sector, and help those with a great project to reach out across the county to connect with other artists and communities. As well as being a creative space, the blog is a place for those working in arts and culture to keep up to date with jobs, opportunities, funding, resources and training.

If you would like to contribute please contact arts@wiltshire.gov.uk