The arts, culture and heritage sectors suffered a 60 per cent decline in output due to pandemic restrictions with a “catastrophic effect”, according to a new report.
Around 55 per cent of jobs – 450,000 people – were furloughed in the sector, which was second only to hospitality and well above the national average of 16 per cent, according to the study commissioned by the University of Sheffield.
More than 80,000 claims were made under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme by people in the arts, culture and heritage sector and output in the sector saw a real terms decline of around one third from the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020.
The report said that activities including cinema, performing arts, museums and historical sites were the worst-hit, while others, including computer games, software, book publishing, TV broadcasting and libraries, were less badly affected.
The university’s study focused on the impact of the pandemic on the cultural industries in South Yorkshire, but put this in the context of the wider national picture.
Professor Malcolm Tait from the University of Sheffield’s department of urban studies and planning, said: “The report into the impact of Covid restrictions on the culture, arts and heritage sector, shows that it has been significantly affected, with a drop in output of around 20 per cent compared to the whole economy of around 10 per cent in 2020.”
“This masks significant variation, however, with sectors such as arts and performance being particularly hard hit due to venue closures, whilst other sectors such as computer game design faring better.
“Nationally, the Culture Recovery Fund and a range of other funds have been crucial to many organisations and venues staying open, though the diversity of the sector meant that some organisations and venues were not able to receive support, and freelance workers also experienced difficulties in accessing financial help.”