CORONAVIRUS – York culture hit hard

30th April 2020

CORONAVIRUS - York culture hit hard

Make It York and City of York Council have joined forces with other key players across York’s cultural sector to be a part of an open letter to government calling for an urgent fund for creative industries – to help those organisations and professionals hit hardest by the fallout of Covid-19.

The open letter to the government is part of a campaign led by the Creative Industries Federation seeking to highlight the urgent support needed for the creative industries.


The letter warns that the government must “act, and act fast” to avoid the UK becoming “a cultural wasteland”.

Key players from across the city’s cultural sector have signed the letter including the Guild of Media Arts, York Museums Trust, York Theatre Royal, York St John University, Explore York Libraries & Archives, National Centre for Early Music, Pilot Theatre, York Civic Trust and York Music Venue Network.

It has also received support of signatories from across the UK’s creative sector, from leading actors, writers and musicians, to heads of some of the UK’s best-loved creative and cultural organisations.

As part of the ongoing business impact survey which is being carried out by Make It York, early results have shown that the city’s cultural sector is urgently in need of further Government support.

With a third of York’s creative industry sector saying they do not have sufficient capital to survive the business impacts they are facing as a result of COVID-19, initial indicators from the survey also have shown that more than 50% of the sector expect to be affected for six months or more once social distancing restrictions are lifted – with two thirds of these predicting it will take more than 12 months.

Councillor Darryl Smalley, City of York Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure & Communities:

“Whilst the current Government measures which have been put in place to support the cultural sector are welcome, there is more which urgently needs to be done to protect businesses and individuals working in these industries.

In York, we anticipate many of the 1000 micro and one-person businesses who have benefited from City of York Council’s Covid-19 Micro Grant Scheme will be in the cultural and creative sectors.

We will continue to work with the Creative Industries Federation to support their nationwide campaign to ensure the Government to take action in this area.”

Sean Bullick, Managing Director at Make It York:

“We know that the impact on local York businesses across all sectors is huge and our business impact survey has already highlighted some key areas where more support is needed.

The creative and cultural sectors are immensely important to York’s business community and with the city’s theatres, venues, museums and galleries closed due to lockdown, we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support this sector.

We have already doubled the size of the Make It York team helping businesses access loans and grants and are passing on intelligence around where more support is required to the LEP which is, in turn, talking directly to HM Treasury with a view to extending support.

The extension of government loan guarantees to cover 100% of loans to businesses with a turnover of less than £500k is a good example of the influence we can have by working together.

We have also begun looking at recovery once lockdown restrictions are eventually lifted.

This includes planning for a range of high profile events in the city and making sure that York’s profile is front and centre regionally, nationally and internationally.”

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