What Next? zoom meeting 2nd April 2020

13 people attended. Chaired by Louise Blackwell and Marina Norris.

Two focuses: how we can feed into national What Next movement, how can we support each other locally.

National picture

We have a direct line to into DCMS via WN national – can share feedback local information

Specific themes to feedback to them:
who are we not hearing from yet
how this is affecting disabled colleagues
feedback current freelance package and offer and ACE

We have been asked to send specific case studies asap.

There is a sub-group of WN National focussing on what we want the future arts and culture sector to look like/ what are the positive things to come out of this led by David Lan.

Response to ACE package and guidelines:

Concern about longer term planning, what happens after October?

Non NPO organisation: What’s going to happen to the organisations hit in the following 6 months (October onwards)? (Most provision looks to be thinking no further ahead, worry about second peak of COVID in autumn). Some venues now only programming from Spring 2021.

Faith Dodkins from The Spire echoes that, at the spire got a good plan in place to take us to Autumn. April – October, going to lose about £30,000 in income, if able to produce that plan and push to Autumn, what then happens in January? We rely on incomes from space hire, advice – going to be affected longer term, past the 6 months.

In 6 months. It’s a very different scenario, in 6 months’ time will we reopen, will it be staggered. My real concern is what is happening in 6 months’ time? My big concern is that the focus is on 6 months, what is the thinking. I know some money is being held back is it project grants? It’s a national issue.

When will project grants will come into play?
Concern around cashflow prior to ACE/government pay-outs. How to forecast when no idea of the parameters? Can you furlough and apply to ACE? Longevity of organisations? Phoenix Gallery have furloughed 10 staff members, 2 running it currently.
Creative Practitioners of all sorts can apply but there are specific benevolent funds for arts form specialisms e.g. dancers – ACE are quite clear in the guidelines that dancers who have not applied for funding in their own steam are unable to apply. There is the Dance professional fund and Equity. There is a zoom meeting tonight about this for dancers, Cath (SED) will share notes.

AN – seems like a fund for self-employed artists and individuals who would normally be exhibiting work – technicians and exhibitors. Other benevolent funds info: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/financial-support-artists-creative-practitioners-and-freelancers#section-8

People who are part of project teams but not leading them they can apply for ACE individual fund.

ACE are hyper aware of those who have not written application forms before – already primed to make the fairest decisions and get the money to those who need it. Everyone at ACE is keen for it to work as it should for those that most need it.

Question about creative practitioners who aren’t lead creatives/ collaborators – photographers, graphic designers – the layer of CPs who have seen a huge drop in income. Has that been discussed and is there guidance?

The guidance doesn’t list those in the examples but if they can make the case and are not getting funding from other places then likely still eligible.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have live projects funded by ACE, thinking of new ways to deliver and emailing updates to the covid email. Emergency fund guidance says you should divert your funds, but they have already rejigged the project to run and updated ACE. Haven’t lost any money now but come autumn, won’t be doing what they would normally be doing because capacity has shifted. Tricky question.

Government package for freelancers:

Concerns for who have set up Ltd. Companies

A huge range are not supported because they have set up Ltd. companies

The Ltd. companies question is quite widespread, companies where people are trying to furlough themselves etc…

Those in charge of Ltd. companies are mainly designers, not so much theatre artists, what is scary for them is that they are able to furlough themselves, but they pay themselves in dividends, the monthly salary is something like £450! Freelancers are able to claim up to £2,500 but director of a Ltd. company you get a lot less.

Concerns about casual staff on zero hour contracts

Furloughing specific point – a question about universities and uni art centres, Laura at ACCA is part of a network, trying to understand this nationwide. Every single Uni art centres is structured differently. Primary concern is the big body of casual staff – they earn more than 50% of their income through PAYE but effectively they are on zero hours contracts, will they fall through the cracks? Will they be eligible, can they be furloughed? Very acute right now.

Concerns about immediate care v long term care of organisation

Could we furlough team members until we get an ACE grant or is it one or another?

Steven Brett, is on the Chisenhale Dance Space, an organisation going through that scenario of whether to furlough or top up in solidarity the extra 20%, what that does in terms of jeopardizing the future of a company? Decision making process becomes very tricky because can follow guidelines till June but don’t know what’s beyond that. Financial forecasting is incredibly tricky on an organisation that relies on income. Up to 35k being a reasonable amount in theory but that can be quite small for some organisations, might be looking at much less than that, where is a reasonable place to pitch. NPOs have been given a year – some form of financial security

Sarah Davies, Phoenix had no choice to furlough the team except Sarah and the Finance Manager, looking at ways to survive and manage the building. There was no other option, to pause those members of staff’s jobs until they get through this.

Faith Dodkins, in terms of The Spire, there are only 2 who draw a regular fee from the organisation, but they are not PAYE so can’t furlough – how much should they apply for/ how do we make sure we get this. What are our absolutely basic necessities, be very honest about what it needs to keep the business afloat?

Whose need is most urgent and who is not being heard?

Heard from people in multiply marginalised groups – it is going to be a lot harder to compete. An artist that Tarik (Marlborough Productions) works with that is disabled, they can’t personally receive money from ACE because they receive money from the government, how do they continue to be creative – do they simply drop off and simply rely on the state/ not be an artist anymore?

I know quite a few people who work in the creative industries on those contracts – they cannot apply for Universal Credit, for other funding, when they are living in very expensive cities, they have limited means for paying for accommodation their means have been missed completely.

Students who can't apply for Universal credit.

Please send specific case studies, can be anonymous, to Louise or Marina.

Local picture

What do we need to do to protect that cultural offer over the next 6 months? What’s available to support organisations locally, what do we need to do to ensure that any decision making at the council has a cultural/ creative voice? What can we do to support each other? What do we want to keep the same/ change in the future?

We know that Sussex community foundation have sent up an emergency fund https://sussexgiving.org.uk/sussex-crisis-fund-launched/
Coast to capital – business (not charities) with more than 5 employees, trading for more than 2 years https://www.coast2capital.org.uk/backing-business-grants
Brighton & Hove council emergency funding – more about voluntary sector/ front line

Small business grants from the council, depends on how your organisation is categorised. You get between 10,000-25,000. They will automatically asses you if you pay business rates/ are exempt. Decisions 6th April https://new.brighton-hove.gov.uk/business-and-trade/update/covid-19-support-businesses-faqs

Ensuring Arts and Culture is part of policy makers thinking:

Marina Norris – what can we do to make sure that culture is represented and listened to in local politics. Write a letter from What Next?

The Arts team at the Council have been in touch with SED, said they are in touch with all organisations across the city, yet to have that conversation, can feedback to What Next. There might be something there that we can bring up.

Maddy Wilson – as far as I’m aware, Donna and Branwen are talking to as many as possible, talking to key organisations initially. Doing some survival planning.

Arts organisations that haven’t heard from Donna/Branwen yet, please let Louise/Marina know and we can share that information with Branwen.
Noted that there has been no statement from the Arts Commission - What Next group would appreciate a leading Arts statement around protecting the cultural life of Brighton & Hove. To go on cultureinthecity.com? Need a creative & cultural leading voice.
What can NPOs do to support local orgs?

It would be amazing to hear from all the NPOs just to say this is what our situation is at the moment, this is our immediate plan. Not expecting them to be miracle workers but would be good to have statements from them, understanding the landscapes. What’s the feeling, what are we doing, so the info is all in one place and people can access it really easily.

How can we utilise the culture in the city website (run by BHCC), as a way to have all information about what we are doing in the city culturally, to speak as a collective voice? Share what we are doing as a city? E.g What cultural activities are still taking led by local arts orgs and artists?

There is a statement on the council website, will send the link. Is the idea a platform where other people can post info of what’s going on or local questions? https://new.brighton-hove.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/culture-events-leisure-and-tourism

A statement from the cultural leaders of the city a statement would be good. There is tonnes of noise on SM so would be good to have a central, shared voice.

Maddy Wilson – short answer is that Culture in the City is an old clunky website that needs a total overhaul. Could be that we need a list, how would the admin of that work?

Cath from SED: As an NPO, since this has happened, we have been working like mad trying to figure out what activity we can do, what needs to be cancelled immediately, do we postpone, how do we afford that. The national dance network has released what we are trying to do immediately. The key thing to do was contact the artists/ partners involved, our first priority was to assure them we would honour their contracts and replan works for a future date. We have to get that all agreed by ACE. We are trying to keep our SM updated but needed to share with care and attention so can’t be immediate (a public response).

Marina Norris - Need to find a way to bring everyone together. This is a way for us to come together in the future, maybe not right now as we try to manage the day to day, using this difficult time to look to how we shape the future.

Laura McDermott: Share what we are thinking as a sector/ city, what we are struggling with. Haven’t got head around how Brighton Fringe has postponed the festival so confidently. Heard lots things about potential for second peak in the Autumn, what are the ethics for postponing/ planning activities for the Autumn? Bryony Kimmings managed to mobilise her social media following #GigAid creating a pot of funds for people able to give to creatives who are suffering, is there something we could think about – there are fundraisers going on locally around the country. Have been some interesting creative responses to this, we are all thinking about what the possibilities are, there is a huge ethical question about the pressure for artists to have digested this situation and create something immediately.

Agree with the ethics of putting pressure on artists to create around the covid-19, what worries me is that there are pots of money popping up that people feel they need to respond to if they’re not ready. Feel the need to apply to these.

Some are able to respond and great but the idea that everyone is able to be creative and productive is a tall ask!

Louise Blackwell – I’ve been struggling with the idea of setting up a hardship fund for south east artists. Feel a bit torn, get that the hardship is now, there are different sorts of support. Who is contributing to these funds? Struggling to ask people for money when there are so many other immediate needs. Very torn about it.

Faith Dodkins – Interested to know who these people are who are donating money, imagine its fellow artists who are in the same fund. How do we make sure we target those who can actually afford it?

Pledge for art set up by Matthew Barrows, encouraging artists to put on work that costs less than £200 on Instagram, each 5 that they sell they buy another piece. May be people in this sector who aren’t specifically artists, and would they suffer? https://news.artnet.com/art-world/artist-support-pledge-instagram-1807881

To finish we asked if it is still useful to have this weekly – everyone said yes.

Marina also asked for people to send us any cultural activity Brighton & Hove artists/orgs are offering. Brighton People’s Theatre happy to share.

Next meeting Thursday 9th April 11am zoom