The headlines captured the attention of the music industry and the public this week when the chancellor Rishi Sunak suggested that the creative industry contains jobs that are now unviable and perhaps people should be retraining.
With pretty much no live music now, no gigs (apart from the odd socially distanced one, sitting at tables, which costs the earth), no festivals, theatres closed for the foreseeable future and cinemas even closing their doors as Cineworld shut i’s venues this week, it is a bleak time to be in the Arts.
Some larger, well-known bands have been doing online shows and they get a good following but that is because of their reputation, for lesser known performers that’s a no go. They have also taken prebookings for gigs next year, but how much we can rely on those happening is another matter! For performers that work professionally doing things like cabaret, pub gigs, theatre shows etc. they have mostly had next to no financial support and are still not allowed to perform for the most part.
Now to add insult to injury they are told to retrain! Anyone in this sector will know they are in it for the love of the craft, and that’s not easy to give up, I don’t think many go into it for the money but no one could have foreseen this.
However, does Rishi have a point? If your work dries up can you expect the government to help or should you just suck it up and get a different job? I think here are a few issues, firstly, there aren’t that many jobs anyway, lots of people are being made redundant in fact (750,000 so far). Secondly, the restrictions in place stopping many performances, especially the 10pm curfew and ban on dancing/singing plus extra local restrictions, means it is very much out of people’s hands and arguably unnecessary in soe people’s eyes given the actual chances of contracting and dying from the virus.
This article certainly isn’t about arguing over the ins and outs of the measures in place, but surely if the government are the ones stopping people making a living they should do more than suggest they retrain?
The linked article actually suggests that furlough being across the board was a huge money sink, as plenty of wealthy and thriving businesses were able to claim and it will cost the country billions. Whilst self employed people had to rely on SEISS which meant some got nothing.
Of course, it has to be said they brought out the furlough and other compensations schemes fast, and you will always have people who miss out, as it can’t cater for every situation. This country did more than some, that’s for sure.
I do think Rishi should have been a little less rash with his comments though, I am sure he knows by now what the headline would be… although the interview definitely wanted to angle him towards it!
Do you think he was right, that people in sectors suffering need to retrain?