Sheffield Music Board - 'One size fits all culture rescue package will not work'

Sheffield City Region Music Report Launch.Tom Kiehl(Deputy Chief Exec of UK Music), Sonia Mellor, (Rotherham Music Hub)Penny Blackham(University of Sheffield), Frank Wilkes(Music Board Memberand Director at DMF Digital). Credit: Steve Ellis.Sheffield City Region Music Report Launch.Tom Kiehl(Deputy Chief Exec of UK Music), Sonia Mellor, (Rotherham Music Hub)Penny Blackham(University of Sheffield), Frank Wilkes(Music Board Memberand Director at DMF Digital). Credit: Steve Ellis.
Sheffield City Region Music Report Launch.Tom Kiehl(Deputy Chief Exec of UK Music), Sonia Mellor, (Rotherham Music Hub)Penny Blackham(University of Sheffield), Frank Wilkes(Music Board Memberand Director at DMF Digital). Credit: Steve Ellis.
The head of a Sheffield-based board of musicians, venues and politicians says that "one size fits all rescue package will not work" for culture while bemoaning South Yorkshire's low levels of public funding for the arts.

The Government last month unveiled a £1.57bn fund to help cultural industries recover from the coronavirus lockdown.

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The Government told The Yorkshire Post that it wants to "ensure work continues to flow to freelancers".

But Penny Blackham, chairwoman of the Sheffield City Region Music Board, says that people have "fallen through the cracks".

The board is made up of public and private sector bodies including musicians, venues, training organisations, local authorities and politicians, aimed at harnessing the city's music scene and its economic potential.

She said: “In 2017 South Yorkshire saw 832,000 people attending live music events in our towns and city, creating an economic boost worth £92 million.

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"(Some) 311,000 of those live music enthusiasts came from outside the region, boosting our tourism numbers and reputation significantly.

But music is much more than an economic driver for the region. It is at the very heart of the Sheffield City Region, famed worldwide for household names such as Joe Cocker, Def Leppard, ABC, Human League, Ensemble 360, Heaven 17, Pulp, Moloko, Kate Rusby, Richard Hawley, Toddla T, Arctic Monkeys, Coco, Fay Hield and many more.

"It is part of our heritage and identity and has the power to comfort and connect people in these most difficult of times.

“During the coronavirus crisis the Sheffield City Region has been working with the music, arts and culture sectors to identify the biggest challenges they face.

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"Without audiences, venues and festivals in South Yorkshire are expecting a loss of income which runs to tens of millions of pounds. Cash flow, uncertainty and cancelled work are already leading to job losses in an industry that contributes more than £92million to South Yorkshire’s economy.

“Music has the power to stimulate our recovery and be the soundtrack for economic and societal renewal; but we must make sure it is still there and functioning in a post-Covid-19 world. The music industry, arts and culture are finely tuned machines and a one size fits all rescue package will not work.

“Whilst the Government’s promise of £1.57bn to support the arts during coronavirus recovery is welcome, too many people working in the industry have fallen through the cracks and have been unable to get any financial support during the crisis.

“Currently, South Yorkshire has lower public funding on a national and local level for the arts, compared to the rest of the North and England as a whole.

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"A strong cultural sector can contribute to welcoming, distinctive and attractive places. It is vital the Government provide the robust and flexible support the industry needs to recover, so we still have a music scene and arts and culture to enjoy after the crisis.”

A Government spokesperson said: "Throughout this crisis, we have worked with urgency to support the arts, which are the soul of the nation."

They added that its latest fund "builds on £200 million in emergency public funding to stabilise organisations in the Spring and this new investment will help secure the future of the performing arts, protect jobs in the industry and ensure work continues to flow to freelancers.

"We are committed to delivering this funding quickly and fairly to organisations, big and small, at the heart of communities across the country. Guidance to help organisations access £500 million in grants is now live and applications will open through Arts Council England from the 10th of August."