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Arts: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 77843, tabled on 21 July 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if he will make extended financial support available for freelancers in the arts sector when the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme end to respond to venues not being (a) permitted to open as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased and (b) able to offer contracts of employment to freelancers in that sector.

Answered on

7 September 2020

This answer is a correction from the original answer.

"DCMS recognise that these are extremely challenging times for freelancers, and understand the crucial role they play in making our arts and creative industries world-leading. We are working hard to ensure that we help to provide financial support to freelancers during this period.

On 5 July, DCMS announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of sectors, including performing arts and theatres, museums and galleries, heritage sites, live music venues and independent cinema.

As a result of these grants and loans, organisations will be more able to resume cultural activity, albeit in a socially distanced way, which will increase employment opportunities for freelancers. Each organisation that receives money will know what best they can do to support their workforce, including their freelance workforce.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has also been extended with applications opening in August for a second and final grant. The grant will operate in the same way as the existing scheme with self-employed workers eligible for a single payment covering three months, at a level of 70% of average monthly earnings up to a maximum of £6,570 (i.e. down from 80% and a maximum of £7,500).

Alongside this funding, ACE have announced £95m of additional support for individuals, which can include freelancers. This involves things such as an additional £75m in project grants. These will be focused on applications that maximise employment opportunities and those from under-represented groups and freelancers are eligible to apply to this directly. National Portfolio Organisations can also apply to create new work with bids that create employment opportunities prioritised. A further round of the ACE programme ‘Discover Your Creative Practice’ will also open in the autumn, which will make approximately £18m available for individuals looking to develop new creative skills that will help them to further develop their career. ACE will also be adding £2m into relevant benevolent funds to support those less well supported by the programmes outlined above, including stage managers and technicians

Original answer

On 5 July, the Government announced a major £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. Guidance has been published by Arts Council England, the British Film Institute, Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund for applicants to the Culture Recovery Grants application rounds, and by Arts Council England for applicants to the Repayable Finance Scheme. Further details on eligibility and application processes are available in the published guidance.

This funding will provide targeted support to organisations across a range of sectors, with one of our core objectives being to support the cultural organisations that are crucial to places across the whole country. We will ensure that funding is distributed fairly, and that smaller organisations and cultural venues that are at the centre of their communities are protected.

We also recognise the crucial role that individuals play in making our arts and creative industries world-leading. As a result of these grants and loans, organisations will be more able to resume cultural activity, albeit in a socially distanced way, which will increase employment opportunities for freelancers.