Bectu calls for emergency measures to support the creative industries through the latest Covid crisis

21 December 2021

Head of Bectu, Philippa Childs, has written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport requesting an emergency support package for freelancers and self-employed workers, in the face of a new Covid crisis.

empty theatre seats

Following the tightening of restrictions due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19, theatres and live events have been subject to a lockdown by stealth, with the number of theatres closing increasing by the day. Many Bectu members have had work cancelled and some have been laid off, with no knowledge of when or if they will be able to return to work.

The threat of new variants and changing Covid restrictions has been ongoing for theatres and live events venues, who were the first to close and the last to reopen during the pandemic and have faced regular closures. Just as production has resumed and workers were preparing for their busiest period, creatives are now facing further uncertainty and job losses.

Sector specific support that can be easily reinstated when necessary is the best way to ensure that freelancers and the self-employed are consistently protected throughout the pandemic, and will be protected in the face of further restrictions and lockdowns.

Bectu has asked DCMS to consider an emergency package, consisting of:

  • A flexible sector specific scheme that can be turned on and off depending on the prevailing Covid restrictions
  • Government backed insurances for theatre and live events

Previous government packages such as the SEISS and the Culture Recovery Fund have left many freelancers and self-employed staff falling through the gaps of support. Bectu is calling on the Government to listen to its requests and provide an emergency package that ensures creative workers are no longer left behind.

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs, responding to the announcement from the Treasury that a further £30 million of funding will be added to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to deal with the impact of rising Covid cases this winter, said:

“The Culture Recovery Fund is not equipped to deal with the rapid response necessary to alleviate the current Covid crisis for theatres and live events. It is focused on buildings not people, is too cumbersome and too slow. We need an emergency support package for our members who are facing another Christmas of work cancellations and uncertainty.”