City of London cultural venues need more support to stay afloat


Local London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai AM is calling for more support from central Government for struggling cultural venues who have been forced to close their doors due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

This comes in the wake of the launch of a new £2.3 million Culture at Risk Business Support Fund being rolled out by City Hall to help London’s creative industries.

The Government have so far announced a £25,000 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund to assist businesses and organisations in these sectors grappling with rent payments and plummeting footfall.

However, many cultural venues in the capital are ineligible for this grant, as they have a rateable value of over the £51,000 threshold set by the Government.

Mr Desai is also raising concerns that in some cases, self-employed business owners in the creative sector will also fall between the gaps of previously announced Government schemes.

For small businesses that can claim a taxable grant introduced by the Government of 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month, he observes that their income is still being impacted considerably.

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City Hall’s £2.3 million Culture at Risk Business Fund is being targeted at businesses who are ineligible for Government support.

However, Mr Desai warns that extra financial support needs to be forthcoming from the Government, as a matter of urgency, to aid the recovery of London’s cultural venues and creative sector.

City Hall estimates that the creative industries are worth £52 billion to London’s economy each year, and account for one in six jobs in the capital.

Mr Desai said: “Our cultural venues and creative industries are integral to our local economy and community life, forming the heart and soul of our city.

“It has been very concerning to see how they have been impacted during this outbreak, and left to struggle with steep rents, whilst dealing with significantly reduced footfall and sales.

“It is positive that City Hall have now introduced a Culture at Risk Business Support Fund, targeted at businesses and venues ineligible for Government support packages.

“The Government must now also intervene and close any gaps in the schemes that they have put in place to help business owners, alongside raising the rateable value threshold so more can access the £25,000 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

“This will be vital for protecting jobs locally and helping us to restore the social and creative fabric of our city when we eventually begin to recover from this pandemic.”

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