Coronavirus: Wales’ creative industries ‘face thousands of job losses’

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Thousands of jobs in Wales’ creative industries could be at risk because of coronavirus

Thousands of jobs could be at risk in Wales’ creative industries because freelancers cannot access UK government cash, a Senedd inquiry has been told.

The Creative Industries Federation said 16,000 positions in Wales are at risk.

The Senedd’s culture, Welsh language and communications committee welcomed a £59m package for Wales from UK government support for the industry.

But it warned the cash would be spread thinly, and urged the Welsh Government to clarify funding priorities.

The committee wants to know how cash will be used to ensure no organisations are forced to close or make employees redundant.

Speaking on BBC Radio Wales on Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We are close to agreeing a first tranche of funding with the arts councils and other bodies in Wales.

“I hope to be able to be in a position to say something definite on that very shortly.”

According to a Film and TV Charity survey, 93% of industry freelancers across the UK are not working because of the crisis, and 74% did not expect to receive UK government help from sources such as the furlough scheme.

Pauline Burt, of Ffilm Cymru, told the inquiry that generally speaking more than 90% of the sector was made up of freelance workers or microbusinesses.

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The film and TV industry was thriving before the pandemic hit, a Senedd inquiry heard

Helen Mary Jones MS, who chairs the committee, said: “Until the Covid-19 outbreak, creative industries had been thriving, they are a key part of our economy, providing skilled jobs and putting Wales firmly on the map around the world.

“We are fast running out of time if we are to stabilise and sustain our creative industries.

“Therefore, the Welsh Government should set out how it will prioritise the additional funding to ensure our arts, cultural and heritage organisations are not forced to close their doors for good or make valued employees redundant, as a matter of urgency.”

Ms Jones called public sector broadcasting an “essential component” in fighting Covid-19 although the committee warned it had never been more under threat.

“Broadcasters have provided critical public health information, specific to Wales, education support for children as well as much-needed entertainment,” she said.

“We owe a lot to the existence of these broadcasters and to hear the financial challenges they are up against is concerning.

“Today we’re calling on the Welsh and UK Governments to provide the financial support they need.”

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And problems getting insurance mean Wales’ reputation as an international location could be at risk

Wales’ international reputation as a film location was at risk because of problems getting insurance, the committee report added.

It said the coronavirus outbreak had magnified inequalities in the business.

Industry giants like Netflix and Amazon had the financial clout to carry the risk while smaller, domestic producers cannot, the report noted.

The committee wants the Welsh Government to meet the insurance industry, public service broadcasters and independent production companies to increase the availability of full production insurance.

Discussions should also be held with the Treasury to get guarantees for insurance providers, the committee said.