/ Chair's Opinion / The impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors

The impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sectors

Val Birchall

The Covid-19 crisis presents the biggest threat to the UK’s cultural and sporting infrastructure, institutions and workforce in a generation. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) now published the report on the impact of Covid-19 on DCMS sector.

The report calls on the government to extend emergency funding to prevent a collapse in the sector and highlights council-run leisure facilities as a priority, stating that “It is essential that leisure facilities are protected” and recommending that DCMS “work with local councils to ensure necessary funding is in place” so that leisure centres are fully operational in August.

CLOA welcomes a needs-based focus, which is the approach that is taken locally, and greater emphasis on addressing barriers experienced by those most affected across culture and sport, who for the most part are the groups that our members prioritise in their work.  The opportunity to reset and focus on inequality must not be missed (as per our earlier Call to Action).  It will be essential that DCMS and its agencies work closely with local authorities as leaders of place, to determine appropriate plans based on local context.  It will be particularly important to assess where organisations are at greatest risk to their survival – including those which are furthest from opportunities to raise resources from individual giving, private sector sponsorship, trading and charitable giving.  A “levelling up” approach must be maintained.

We welcome the recommendation of a more flexible approach to eligibility for support and encourage DCMS to work with local government to develop the criteria in order to ensure that public funding from DCMS underpins commitments to reaching those most in need/most affected.

We also welcome a steer that collections should not be sold to meet short term revenue pressures, but seek a partnership with DCMS concerning how this approach will constrain the ability of museums to manage their sustainability within the Code of Ethics requirements, given the ongoing viability issues. 

We call on DCMS to enter a meaningful dialogue with local government concerning the pressures that it is under and how a partnership approach can enable preservation and, crucially, improvement of sport, culture and heritage sectors in order to meet local need effectively.

In drawing together the conclusion and recommendations, testimony was given by 25 witnesses and 666 pieces of written evidence have also been considered. You can read the evidence submitted by CLOA on behalf of the membership here.

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