Agenda item

Agenda item

Support for the culture sector in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The Committee will receive a verbal update on developments since the Committee last considered this item at its meeting on 11 March 2021.  The report that was submitted to the 11 March meeting is enclosed as background information.


The Committee received a presentation from the Director of Culture which provided an update on support for the culture sector in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic since the Committee last considered this at its meeting on 11 March 2021.  The Committee was also provided with a copy of the previous report, including the Culture Recovery Plan, as background information.


The main points and themes within the presentation included:


  • Positive impacts of the original Culture Recovery Plan;
  • Emergency grant funding received;
  • Priorities going forward;
  • Approach;
  • Stimulus Programme; and
  • Resources,


In response to a question from the Chair about the postponement of the lifting of restrictions and the uncertainty that the sector was having to deal with, the Director of Culture confirmed that it was making things difficult for organisations but advised that most of them had anticipated that the timeline for lifting restrictions could change.  He reported that, for example, the Manchester International Festival had put in place plans for the festival taking place under either Stage 3 or Stage 4 of the lifting of restrictions.  He advised that the main challenge was the financial impact and recruiting freelance crew and security staff as many people who worked in this sector had now taken jobs elsewhere which were more secure.


Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:


  • How the Committee would continue to monitor this area and the next steps being taken, including the work of the Cultural Recovery Board and the impact of the funding being allocated, noting that the Committee might look at some of this in a future report;
  • The impact of the pandemic on mental health and the effect that culture could have in ameliorating this;
  • The impact of the restrictions and the delay in lifting them on small music venues and nightclubs and support for these businesses;
  • Monitoring and responding to shifting patterns of behaviour, such as people working from home; and
  • To thank staff, the Executive and partners for the work they had done during the pandemic.


The Director of Culture advised that discussions had taken place with the NHS about the campaign for encouraging people to return to cultural venues and it had been decided to go for a more subtle approach about the joy that cultural events could give to people, rather than explicitly referencing health.  He informed Members that direct support was being provided to help small venues apply to various cultural relief funds and that they had been working closely with the Music Venues Trust.  He reported that Manchester had been more successful in obtaining cultural relief fund grants than anywhere else and that some venues and individuals had also received funding through the local emergency fund.  He advised that the levels of collaboration between different organisations and venues had been higher in Manchester than elsewhere.  He also reported that plans were constantly being updated. 


The Principal Policy Officer advised that a fuller picture of the impact of the pandemic and the recovery would be known when the next Cultural Impact Survey, relating to 2020, was carried out and through the following one, which would cover 2021.  He advised that, while the level of public appetite for returning to cultural venues could be seen, at present venues were having to operate at a reduced capacity, due to the restrictions, and that this was only financially viable because of the additional funding they were receiving so there was still a risk at the dates when various support schemes were due to end.




To note the update.


[Councillor Whiston declared a personal interest as a Board Member of Community Arts North West.]

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