Supporting Our Creative Sector

Our creative industries are crucial to unite us in this difficult time

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Our creative industries are crucial to unite us in this difficult time and to rebuild our future economy. It’s important that we unite behind them to pull them through this.

We’re living through an incredibly challenging time. For those fighting the disease on the front line, in our hospitals and our care homes, and those keeping our essential economy going, in our supermarkets and streets, we must be incredibly grateful.

And of those of us who are able to stay indoors, many face our own challenges; adapting to crowded or lonely living situations, or simultaneously meeting demands to be a maths teacher, sports coach and craft maker, whilst navigating the frustrating new world of video meetings. In this testing time, we are all learning to adapt.

This is true too for many organisations. For the majority of the UK’s businesses, this is a time of urgent contingency planning. Sectors that we previously knew to be the lifeblood of our economy face difficult months ahead.

Our creative industries are under particular strain. The closure of entertainment venues and events has brought much of the creative economy at a standstill. From large and well known institutions through to the tiny businesses that make up their supply chains, the impacts are being felt across the country. In a recent survey The Creative Industries Federation conducted, we found that almost half of creative organisations wouldn’t be able to survive more than 12 weeks on their existing cash reserves.

To me, this is a very sobering statistic. The UK’s creative and cultural sector is diverse and vibrant. It includes everything from photography to pottery, from board games to burlesque. It’s made up of mainly of hundreds of thousands of tiny businesses, often run by just a handful of individuals. These businesses have a great variety of business models. A tiny craft workshop in Penzance may operate very differently to a scaling games development company in Warwickshire.

Yet there is one thing that unites these companies; the generation of intellectual property. Creative businesses are mostly built around often intangible assets with an unclear market value. They are less likely to have relationships with mainstream financers and private investors, the relationships that are proving to be so crucial right now. This means that large swathes of the creative sector are falling through the gaps in Government support, unable to access the business loans, and seeing cash flow reduce at a worrying rate. For many small creative business owners, their entire livelihoods are on the line.

At Creative England we are taking steps to support the sector through this tough time. We are campaigning and working with Government to highlight the gaps in their support measures. We are commissioning research to measure the impact of the crisis on the creative sector. And, alongside this, we are re-shaping our investment activity to best support our businesses. We are providing intensive financial guidance and business support, as well as options for loan repayment holidays. We have adapted the terms of our Creative Growth Finance fund, making it a more flexible scheme for post-revenue creative businesses, and have committed to a quick and simple application process, reaching a decision within 4 weeks of application.

We know that the creative workforce is even more important in this time of great uncertainty. Creativity allows us to express ourselves and to build a collective sense of identity. Our creative businesses are fantastically positioned to offer us some solace and to connect communities whilst we are physically apart. Whether it be through the National Theatre’s screenings, comedians performing gigs from their living rooms, club nights going virtual, or choirs forming the world over, creativity and culture is a way of escaping the alarming world outside.

And I think that the creative and digital industries will be vital to reconnecting us and rebuilding our towns and cities, after this, too. Creative businesses are innovative and adaptable. They create imaginative solutions for the future, and they show us different ways of looking at the world. These are the very things we will need as a foundation of our future economy. This is why, just as our creative institutions and practitioners are supporting us through this tough time, we must do all we can to support them too.

Find out more about our Creative Growth Finance Debt Fund here