Five-year plan for culture revealed as effect of COVID-19 pandemic on Liverpool City Region’s creative industry is laid bare

The pandemic’s impact on Liverpool City Region’s cultural industries is revealed in a new report that details a five-year plan to rebuild the sector.

The report – to go before the Combined Authority today – also reveals 24,000 people, nearly double the number estimated by the Office for National Statistics, worked in the city region’s creative sector before the pandemic.

The new plan – known as the Liverpool City Region Cultural Compact Strategic Action Plan – recognises the key role that arts and culture play in the city region’s economy and in supporting health and wellbeing as the City Region emerges from the pandemic.

It also praises the commitment of arts and cultural organisations to focus on communities and renewal during the Covid-19 pandemic and the sector’s agile and innovative response.

The Cultural Compact identifies three key strategic priorities for the sector’s recovery:

  • Creative Communities will champion community-led transformation and develop assets within communities across the Liverpool City Region.
  • Creative People will support and facilitate artist, practitioner and community led cultural/creative interventions within city region cultural programmes.
  • Creative Places will prioritise the influence and role of arts and culture in the regeneration and recovery of the city region

According to the report, “Arts, culture and creative industries are amongst the sectors hit hardest by measures to mitigate the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence of the impact of the crisis can be observed across the hospitality sector and visitor economy, hit by the closure of venues and 3,500 redundancies in the first six months of the crisis.”

The report adds: “Closure of music, entertainment and performing arts venues had a catastrophic effect on other parts of the supply chain, including production services, catering and travel companies, whose social and economic impact is immense.”

The report recognises that: “Liverpool City Region’s decision, uniquely, to feature culture in its devolution deal, continues to drive ambition and opportunity for the arts, culture and creative industries across the city region.”

It adds: “Culture has contributed massively to the wellbeing of the city region and its people – if it is to remain the critical and vital part of the city region’s economic and social infrastructure that it has become, the sector will need re-invention and reinvestment.”

Case Study: Future Yard, Argyle Street, Birkenhead

Future Yard is a live venue founded thanks to funding from the Music Support Fund. It plans to attract national and international artists as well as provide opportunities for local musicians and training for young people to have careers in live music.

The Argyle St operation also received Future Innovation Fund support with the aim of providing the Wirral town with a huge lift as it emerges from Covid-19 restrictions finding new ways to support artists.

Co-founder Craig Pennington said, ‘’It’s been tough but we know there are people at the city region who have got our back and that makes it a little bit easier. I think having a City Region Music Board which is really engaged, means that the sector’s got representation so that we can shape the response to Covid.

“I feel when we look back on this period we’ll see it as a period of galvanising, of strengthening, of understanding the value that music brings. Maybe what has happened this year has made us realise that and put a value on that and in the long run that’s probably a good thing.”

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said, “Culture is in our DNA as a City Region. It’s part of what defines us and plays a key role in all of our lives, not to mention our economy. We have done all we can to support the sector during the pandemic and through our Culture and Creativity Awards we recently celebrated the resilience and ingenuity of our cultural community, who have continued to create and entertain us through these most difficult times.

“We are going to need our cultural and creative sector more than ever, as we start to emerge from lockdown. It has a key role to play in boosting our health and wellbeing as we deal with what we have been through over the last year, and the Cultural Compact Action Plan provides an invaluable blueprint for the sector’s ongoing recovery.”

The funding from Arts Council England was awarded to Culture Liverpool to support the work of/development of the Compact which has been facilitated by the LCR Cultural Partnership.

The Cultural Compact Action Plan builds on an ongoing commitment to the sector, including the 1% For Culture pledge, which commits 1% of the Combined Authority’s annual £30 million budget to the cultural sector, and the successful Borough of Culture programme, as well as the LCR Music Support Fund and LCR Film Development Fund, launched during the pandemic.

The £2m Liverpool City Region Film Production Fund, launched in 2019 with funding from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, has directly supported five productions in the last year, including Jimmy McGovern’s ‘Time’ starring Sean Bean and ‘Help’ with local actors Stephen Graham and Jodie Comer. The fund is managed by Liverpool Film Office (part of Culture Liverpool).

The Fund has helped to ensure the involvement of local crew and facilities in the productions, building the expertise, reputation and capacity of the local sector. Its linked training has helped to support the next generation of diverse local crew with 40 LCR trainees supported in 2020.

Phil Redmond, Co-Chair of the Cultural Partnership, said, “As we look to a post-pandemic future and reboot our culture, there will inevitably be challenges ahead, just as there always has been, but there is also a new horizon in an accelerating, digital, post-Covid world.

“This plan lays down a new road map for the next stage of cultural development as we remind people that Liverpool City Region has been, is and will continue to provide the UK’s second city of culture.”

The next Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting takes place today, 19 March 2021 at 1pm.

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