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DCMS committee

DCMS Committee releases first report on the impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors

Kitty Underwood

By Kitty Underwood First Published 23 July 2020, Last Updated 24 July 2020

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee has released its first report on the impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors.

MPs have said that the Government has been ‘too slow’ to respond to the needs of the DCMS sectors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and have underestimated the challenge our sectors face, leaving many organisations facing an “existential threat” to their survival.

They say this has come from a combination of a lack of spending power and a fundamental misunderstanding of the needs, structures, and social contribution of the cultural sectors.

The report suggested that cultural industries are facing closures and redundancies that might have been avoided, and that the Government’s £1.57 billion support package took too long to be announced.

The report also highlighted the need for tailored measures for certain creative industries, with around two thirds of those working in the music industry and theatres being self-employed.

The report’s key recommendations were based on over 660 material submissions, including submissions from SOLT & UK Theatre and include the following:

  • A sector-specific recovery deal for performing arts that includes continued workforce support measures, including enhanced measures for freelancers and small companies.
  • Clear, if conditional, timelines for reopening, and technological solutions to enable audiences to return without social distancing.
  • Long-term structural support to rebuild audience figures and investment.
  • Government should introduce flexible, sector specific versions of the CJRS and SEISS guaranteed for the creative industries until their work and income returns to sustainable levels. Any such measures should account for the differences in timeframes for the easing Covid-19 restrictions across the four nations.
  • Support for the self-employed should be urgently reviewed and amended so that it covers people who have been excluded to date.
  • Cut in VAT on ticket sales for theatre and live music is extended beyond January 2021, for the next three years.
  • The Government should extend Theatre Tax Relief to 50% for the next three years and introduce a Music Tax Relief.

The report also noted the need for more specific timescales in the re-opening plan for theatre, acknowledging that telling venues they can re-open with only a few days’ or weeks’ notice doesn’t address the lead times for performances or the challenges of planning and implementing social distancing procedures. They recommend:

  • Government should publish a ‘no earlier than’ date for stage five of its plan to reopen performing arts venues.
  • Cultural Renewal Taskforce must co-ordinate cross-sector work on technological solutions for mass gatherings, ensuring the sports and entertainment sectors work together, alongside NHS Test and Trace, to develop a universal, technological solution to enable the safe return of ticket holders to events.

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of Society Of London Theatre and UK Theatre said:

“We welcome this new report from the DCMS Select committee, especially their key recommendations. We wholeheartedly support the report’s call for Government to publish a “no earlier than” date now for stage five of the plan to reopen performing arts venues. Telling venues they can reopen with just a few days’ or weeks’ notice does not address the lead times for performance, the challenges of social distancing or the concerns about audience behaviours.

“We also support the report’s recommendation to cut VAT on ticket sales for theatre beyond January 2021 and for Government to extend Theatre Tax Relief to 50% for the next three years. We continue to work collaboratively with the Cultural Renewal Taskforce to co-ordinate cross-sector work and explore technological solutions to enable the safe return of ticket holders to events.”

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We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.