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South Yorkshire's creative industries received less Covid support than other areas, report reveals

A new study by researchers at the University of Sheffield looks at how the pandemic has decimated the UK's arts sector.

Showroom Cinema Sheffield geograph org uk 1918434

Venues like The Showroom were closed for large parts of the pandemic.

Chris Downer on Wikimedia Commons.

A major new report by researchers at the University of Sheffield reveals that South Yorkshire's arts sector received the second-lowest amount of government support of any region in the UK.

The county was allocated £13.56 per head of population from the Cultural Recovery Fund, compared to £20.44 per head in Newcastle.

Unlike other parts of the country, no organisations in South Yorkshire were allocated a grant or loan over £5 million, despite the region's creative industries being among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“Through this research we have been able to get frank and honest feedback on the effect of Covid-19 on our wonderfully creative and resilient cultural, arts and heritage sector here in the South Yorkshire region," said Professor Vanessa Toulmin of the University of Sheffield.

"We have heard from freelancers who have experienced significant financial loss as well as anecdotal evidence of the impact on wellbeing from audiences who had a lack of opportunity to access arts and culture."

The report shows that the output loss to the creative industries in South Yorkshire as a result of the pandemic was 22% – 5% more than the UK average. Researchers say this is because the region has a higher share of jobs in the sub-sectors of the arts sector hit hardest by lockdown.

Three-quarters of freelancers in South Yorkshire who responded to a survey said their mental wellbeing was worse since the start of the pandemic, with male respondents, under-30s and respondents with a diagnosed mental health condition particularly hard hit.

53.8% of event crew, lighting and sound engineers in the county said their mental health was "much worse", compared to an average of 25.5% in the wider population.

Across the UK, 55% of jobs in the creative industries were furloughed at some point since the start of the pandemic – the second highest of any sector. The national average was 16%.

The report was produced by social science researchers at the university, working with Chamberlain Walker Economics and the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA).

"These sectors are vital to our economy, civic identity, and quality of life in South Yorkshire," said Kate Brindley of the SYMCA, which has announced £1 million of investment into arts and culture over the coming months to aid their recovery.

"Our research project has drawn together a large volume of evidence, with the highly valuable input of many of those who work in the sector in South Yorkshire," said Professor Malcolm Tait, one of the authors of the report.

"This has revealed both the scale of the challenge facing many arts and culture organisations and workers, but also the creativity and resilience of many responses."

by Sam Gregory (he/him)
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