Urgent clarification on who will be eligible for grants under the government’s £1.57 billion emergency package and when they will be awarded is vital to stave off further redundancies in the sector, BECTU has warned.
The backstage union has written to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to seek clarity, warning that organisations are continuing to make redundancies while uncertainty continues.
In the letter, BECTU head Philippa Childs states: “As you know, we have vocally welcomed the announcement of support from the government. However, with redundancies being announced across the sector it is essential that this support get to where it needs to go as soon as possible. I am sure you would agree with me that in order to recover quickly from this pandemic this fund must be used to protect as many creative jobs as possible – but that requires swift action.”
She adds: “Is there any information you are able to share to help us understand what timescales the department is working towards in relation to getting grants and loans out to organisations that need urgent support and when might we expect to see the criteria published?”
She warns that theatres are unable to delay redundancy plans “without having some certainty about whether they will be eligible to access funds, and therefore timing is critical”.
BECTU sits on the Entertainment and Events Working Group, which is a sub-group of the Cultural Renewal Taskforce set up by the DCMS.
Childs has also urged the government to provide more support for freelancers.
“I would welcome any more information from the department about any further measures being taken to support the creative freelancers who are the bedrock of the workforce in the sector.
“You will know that many are in a desperate situation having fallen outside the government support schemes, and the future of the sector is at risk if these workers are unable to stay in the creative industries for financial reasons,” she said.
DCMS said in a statement: "We are investing £1.57 billion - the biggest ever one-off cash-injection in UK culture - to help the sector and those working in it weather the impacts of the coronavirus. We are doing everything we can to support those who need it as quickly as possible. We will publish details on the process as soon as possible."