Hundreds of creatives sign letter to government demanding financial support
Architects from Hawkins Brown are among more than 400 figures from the creative industries who have written to the government today warning the UK could become a “cultural wasteland” without urgent financial support.
David Bickle and Hazel York, partners at the practice, plus RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance have signed the letter organised by the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), along with household names such as Stephen Fry, PJ Harvey, Grayson Perry and Meera Syal as well as the directors of institutions from the Tate and Royal Northern College of Music to Penguin Books and Jerwood Arts.
Sarah Weir, chief executive of the Design Council, Design Museum director Tim Marlow, Harriet Forde, president of the British Institute of Interior Design, and Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, are also among the signatories.
It is part of a wider campaign to raise awareness of the catastrophe facing the UK’s cultural sector, using the social media hashtag #OurWorldWithout.
Today’s letter to the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, calls for urgent funding for the sector which it says is in crisis because thousands of creative organisations and professionals are falling through the gaps of existing covid-19 support measures.
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A survey conducted by the CIF found one in seven respondents believed their organisation could only last until the end of this month, with half expecting to go to the wall if they don’t receive help by the summer.
Bickle, a partner at Hawkins Brown and former director of FuturePlan at the V&A, said: “Creativity reminds us what it means to be human and a world without the creative industries would be a world without hope in the future.”
Vallance – who speaks for the RIBA while its president remains absent – added: “The value of the UK creative industries expands far beyond their huge contribution to the economy. Their work supports our wellbeing, which is now more important than ever.”
The letter argues the creative sector will be critical to driving the UK’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic which has seen the stock market slump and nearly 1m people apply for universal credit in the first three weeks of lockdown.
Weir said rapid investment now would be repaid many times over. She warned that the country’s creative sector – admired the world over – had “all but disappeared” since lockdown began.
Creativity reminds us what it means to be human and a world without the creative industries would be a world without hope in the future
David Bickle, Hawkins Brown
Whitbread said it was vital the government provides targeted relief to such an important part of the UK economy, by making finance easier to access and establishing a distress fund for those who have fallen through the cracks.
“Critically, this cash must get to firms quickly, so that they can survive in the short term in order to thrive again in the long term,” she said.
The letter in full
We, the undersigned creative professionals and institutions, call on the government to protect the UK’s creative industries.
Our creative and cultural sector is in crisis. A Creative Industries Federation survey of 2,000 creative organisations and freelancers revealed that 1 in 7 creative organisations believe they can last only until the end of April on existing financial reserves. Only half think their reserves will last beyond June.
We cannot allow the UK to lose half of its creative businesses and become a cultural wasteland. The creative industries are one of the UK’s biggest success stories, previously growing at five times the rate of the wider economy. The creative sector will also be critical to driving the UK’s economic recovery - and transforming lives for the better - as we re-build.
We must act, and act fast. We call on the government to implement urgent funding for creative and cultural organisations impacted by the fall-out of covid-19.
In additional statements released alongside the letter, actor Simon Callow said: “The government needs to understand that culture is not the icing on the cake - it is the cake, which provides delight and nourishment, and defines who and what we are.”
Musician Paloma Faith said: ”The creative arts have always been a refuge, an important voice in times of joy, pain and heartache. They unite people in their shared experiences. and make people feel less alone, punctuating our memories and articulating the feelings we don’t have the words for.”
Matthew Banwell, creative director of graphic design agency Apt, said: “Despite my work being decimated, I am one of many creative people being denied equitable government help. And as well as money worries, I have a very deep sense of shame and guilt. What is that I have done so wrong during my 17-year career as a graphic designer which means my business and my family should be deliberately denied support? I only wish I knew.”
Rosy Greenlees, executive director of the Crafts Council, said: “The creative and cultural industries are central to our lives and even more so now. Craft skills are helping make the surgical gowns and the facemasks that we need so urgently. Making is keeping us occupied in our homes and contributing to our health and wellbeing at a time of great stress. But the crafts sector consists of thousands of self-employed people. Along with the many other freelance creatives that make up our amazing creative industries they need support or they will not survive. The Crafts Council supports the Creative Industry Federation’s campaign #OurWorldWithout.”