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U.K. GOVT. GETS ANOTHER BAD REPORT

A House of Commons culture select committee has criticized the British Government’s delayed reaction to the “existential threat” faced by the U.K.’s cultural industries and spelled out a list of recommendations to get live entertainment back on its feet.

The report says ministers "consistently failed to recognize" the challenges Covid-19 posed and the late arrival of the £1.57b funding package “inevitably led to closures and redundancies in the cultural sector that might otherwise have been avoided.”

The committee concludes: "The Government has been too slow to respond to the needs of the sectors under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s remit during the Covid-19 outbreak. In its response, DCMS has been hampered by its overall spending power, a lack of robust data on ineligibility for support and a fundamental misunderstanding across Government of the needs, structures and vital social contribution of sectors such as the creative industries."

Recommendations include the provision of a sector-specific recovery deal for the performing arts and an investigation into how the market for recorded music is operating in the era of streaming to ensure that music creators are receiving a fair reward.

When it comes to live music, the report criticizes the Cultural Renewal Taskforce for being "slow to demonstrate meaningful progress,” which led to the loss of planning time for the return of live performance. To provide more certainty and allow for forward planning, the MPs recommend that the Government should, no later than 8/1, publish “no earlier than” dates for stage five of its plan to reopen performing arts venues. 

The Government has also been asked to introduce flexible, sector-specific versions of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Schemes, which close in October, guaranteed for the creative industries until their work and income returns to sustainable levels. 

In addition, VAT cuts on ticket sales for theater and live music should be extended beyond January  for the next three years, the Government should introduce a Music Tax Relief, and protect cultural assets by tightening planning regulations around change of use from venues or music studios to residential and other developments. There’s also a call for the Government to work with the insurance industry to introduce a long-term pandemic reinsurance scheme and the establishment of an emergency fund to guarantee coverage for concerts and tours interrupted or abandoned due to Covid-19. 

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