Creative people from across the city are coming together to make an Arts Recovery Plan to support the city’s cultural and events sector through the Covid-19 crisis.
Part-funded by Brighton & Hove City Council, the plan will explore how the sector can recover from loss of income and how artists and organisations can adjust their commercial models to new ways of working.
Brighton & Hove has a year-round calendar of cultural events, including around 60 festivals which bring millions of visitors into the city. They include the Brighton Festival, the second largest in the UK, and Brighton Fringe which, in 2019 contributed around £20 million to the local economy.
The last Brighton Pride event attracted 300,000 parade participants, while the two Artists Open House events saw 15,000 artists and makers participating at 180 venues within 14 different trails.
Festivals have adapted to offer online events, and The Warren staged a successful physically distanced outdoor season on the seafront this summer.
Support for events and culture
The cancellation of live events has left most of the sector in serious financial difficulty, with revenues also lost in retail and hospitality.
Some government support has been provided and small live music venues, artists’ workspaces and galleries have benefitted from grants.
In May, the council’s Policy and Resources (Recovery) sub-committee agreed to the distribution of £3.68 million allocated to the city council by government as discretionary grants to businesses.
In June and July a total of £935,000 was awarded to over 100 organisations in the events or cultural sub-sectors, with a further £747,500 awarded to 50 leisure businesses.
In July, 61 Brighton & Hove based organisations received emergency funds from Arts Council England with grants of up to £35,000 awarded to a wide range of organisations, from Brighton Fringe to The Old Market. Emergency funds were awarded to national performance organisations such as the Brighton Dome and Festival and The Lighthouse.
Arts organisations in the city are also fundraising with their supporters. For example, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival (BDBF) have just released a series of high-quality art prints as part of its #BringBackBrightonDome crowdfunder campaign.
Arts Recovery Plan
Now the council is looking ahead and working with a group of organisations and the Arts and Creative Industries Commission to produce an Arts Recovery Plan to run over the next three years.
The plan, due to be completed in November, will pave the way for investment in new jobs, new commissions, exploring how the city’s public and cultural spaces can be adapted and used and opportunities created for cultural freelancers, organisations and audiences.
Councillor Marianna Ebel, joint chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee, said: “We have such a vibrant and exciting culture in Brighton & Hove and it has been inspiring to see how organisations, artists and venues have used their creativity to adapt and continue to make us feel close to each other, through sharing cultural experiences.
“We don’t underestimate the serious effect the pandemic has had on the sector however and we are committed to helping draw funding into the city. We also want to support the Arts and Creative Industries Commission with a recovery plan that will pave the way back for our colourful creative and culture sector.”
Councillors discussed support for the city’s creative and cultural sector at the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee on 24 September. You can read the report (agenda item 31) and watch a recording of the meeting.