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Our Collective efforts are starting to gain traction in both local and national government. The UK Government has announced (5th July 2020) a further funding initiative to support the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Sectors; which encompasses Events. This will see Scotland receive a further £97m in funding to support our industry sector.
Please get behind this and lets continue to push for further support and keep our industry friends and colleagues from falling through yet more cracks in the government funding initiatives.
I write as a constituent operating in, or closely associated with, the events industry in your constituency to ask for your help.
Specifically, I am asking that you make representations on my behalf to the First Minister to provide further support and clearer guidance for our beleaguered sector as called for by the Scotland Event Producers Independent Committee (EPIC) of which I am a supporter.
Our sector has a number of facets which distinguish it from general ‘hospitality’ and, as such, it needs specific types and levels of support which differ from what may be required by other parts of the hospitality industry. We are suffering particularly badly from the effects of lockdown. It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of the business that I am associated with, and our entire sector as we know it, is at stake. This is a crisis and time is of the essence. The vast majority of businesses operating in the events economy are at the small end of SME, with all the cash flow pressures that brings even in ‘normal’ times.
Underneath the large-scale events there is a huge daily calendar of events from conferences, music festivals, weddings, corporate events, cultural and community events. These are the backbone of events in Scotland and their cultural and social value should not be underestimated. Furthermore, it is vital this backbone is protected in order to ensure the supply chain for the large-scale events is intact. We are expecting to be amongst the last sectors to be authorised to re-open and the often intimate nature of most events means that any form of social distancing is extremely difficult to accommodate whilst remaining financially viable.
1. A further business support grant along the lines of the Coronavirus Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Fund Grant but specifically focussed on businesses operating in the events industry. The grant needs to cover businesses with a Rateable Value of up to and over £150K. We would also seek to include a Coronavirus Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme which would consider businesses without Rateable Value within the supply chain that create the vital infrastructure for our sector to ensure they are able to gain access to financial support to ensure our sector bounces back from this crisis. The grant is needed to help cover current rent commitments and market re-engagement funding, to reflect the reality that events will not be authorised to re-open in the same timescale as other sectors such as hotels, bars and restaurants.
2. A further grant scheme that supports existing proven events to continue to operate under social distancing regulations that would otherwise be cancelled due to the financial implications of reduced capacities. This is significant because if these events are cancelled the survival of the producers and supply chain is under serious threat - sparking a domino effect on Scotland’s capacity to operate small, mid and large scale events.
3. An extension of the Furlough & SEIS schemes until the end of 2020, maintained at the full 80% level, to reflect our longer lockdown and the added Employment & Self-Employed pressures that this entails for businesses that cannot reopen, with an inclusion for the Sole Directors of Limited Company’s and the ability to include Dividends as Income for the period in parallel with the current Furlough and SEIS Schemes.
4. A commitment to work with our representative body, EPIC and the wider industry, to find ways of maintaining public health, compatible with our industry and its ability to survive commercially – i.e. a reduction in Social Distancing measures / Introduction of Track and Trace technology.
5. Help to reverse the narrative when it is safe to do so, to ensure that the public are aware that it is safe to re-engage and to attend events both outdoors and indoors.
The UK Government announced this week that they are providing a £1.57b fund to help the Sector, with Scotland to receive £97m additional funding as part of this. The nature of how the funds will be disseminated is still unclear with many of our industries businesses and freelancers asking if they will be eligible. We need to have better clarity on the funding schemes and how the smaller businesses can gain access to these funds. Our industry isn't run by big business; it is a collective effort of many small businesses working together.
The business with which I am associated plays a vital part in the local economy of your constituency and its cultural and civic life. I hope you will agree with me that it would be a tragedy if such businesses were lost as the result of a chain of events over which they have no control
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this matter,