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UK’s creative sector ‘on the brink of devastation’ with thousands of jobs at risk, experts warn

Music, theatre, film, publishing and architecture industries, which were in rude health before the pandemic, are now facing catastrophe

Roisin O'Connor
Tuesday 16 June 2020 11:01 BST
Stars perform to celebrate healthcare workers during One World: Together At Home concert

The UK is facing a “cultural catastrophe” and the loss of more than 400,000 jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, industry leaders have warned.

Research for projects by Oxford Economics predict that the creative industries could end up losing £74bn in revenue this year.

The report, which looked at the pandemic’s impact on industries including music, film, TV, theatre, architecture, publishing, and galleries and museums, said the creative sector will be hit twice as hard as the wider economy.

As the impact of lockdown is felt across the UK, the Creative Industries Federation said the cultural sector is on “the brink of devastation”. Before the pandemic, the industry was in “rude health”, employing more than two million people and contributing £117.7bn to the UK economy.

“These are the industries of the future – highly innovative, resistant to automation and integral to our cultural identity. We’re about to need them more than ever,” ​chief executive Caroline Norbury said.

“Our creative industries have been one of the UK’s biggest success stories but what today’s report makes clear is that, without additional government support, we are heading for a cultural catastrophe.

She continued: “If nothing is done, thousands of world-leading creative businesses are set to close their doors, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost and billions will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our country.”

UK Music’s acting chief executive Tom Kiehl said: “Year after year, the UK music industry is a proven winner for our economy, job creation and exports, as well as positively impacting other sectors like tourism.

“Coronavirus has turned our world upside down, with catastrophic consequences across the industry and beyond.”

He added: “The music industry is resilient, but this means knowing when to ask for help. We need help to restart our economy, help to preserve jobs and help to maintain the UK’s fundamental position as a net exporter of music across the rest of the world.”

Earlier this month, a £2.5m music fund ran out of cash after just five days, as 3,500 people applied for assistance.

“It’s a bigger, longer crisis than any of us could have thought possible,” said Help Musicians‘ chief executive, James Ainscough.

Touring and gigging musicians have been particularly affected by lockdown as months of scheduled work vanished from mid-March.

Up to 25 per cent of musicians are not covered by the government’s scheme to support freelancers, and have no other source of income during lockdown.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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