Frustration from businesses denied Cultural Recovery Funding

Following the announcement of the full list of successful Cultural Recovery Grant applicants this week, the NTIA are shocked that once again some of the key contemporary music venues, artists, events and supply chain have been missed out of the cultural recovery funding, and with no clear understanding of the future, this has left many of them in an extremely difficult financial position.

Less than 20 Night Clubs have been awarded funding from 2700 applicants, with a nominal amount of Agents, Artists, Events, Festivals & Supply Chain, presenting a disproportionate level of support once again for Night Time Economy cultural businesses.

While the fund is not able to support everyone, it will leave many businesses who have missed out on this opportunity on a perilous cliff edge, and given the significance of some of the businesses that have been left out, we are concerned with regard to eligibility and fair consideration around the types of businesses being supported.

The NTIA are eager, alongside hundreds of unsuccessful businesses, to understand the criteria with which some of these decisions have been made. There is a huge amount of frustration within the sector, as many of the reasons for denial do not correlate with the applications, forcing many to question the criteria and assessment process.

Feedback from Unsuccessful Applicants:
*Some businesses were assessed as culturally significant in Round (1) CRF and have been deemed not significant enough in CRF Round (2).

*Businesses who have survived over 12 months of this pandemic have failed due to their adaptability, leaving many in disbelief given the hardships they have faced and the adaptations they have made to keep their businesses going.

*Artists agents/management receiving cultural recovery funding, where the artist, who is fundamental to the success of these businesses are being denied.

*There are inconsistencies between different applications and their viability assessments which has led to funding being declined, with no recourse for appeal, this has left people deflated and let down.

*With limited success for many NTE Businesses we have to consider who is representing the sector within DCMS and ACE, but looking at the Cultural Recovery Board we clearly have no representation from the sector, and it is broadly represented by the classic arts sector.

Cultural Recovery Board Members Below:
Independent Chair – Sir Damon Buffini
Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal – Neil Mendoza
Arts Council England – Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England
Historic England – Sir Laurie Magnus, Chair of Historic England
National Lottery Heritage Fund – Rene Olivieri, Chair of NLHF
British Film Institute – Jay Hunt, BFI Governor (Board Member)
DCMS – Emma Squire, Director for Arts, Heritage and Tourism

Michael Kill, CEO NTIA Says:
“Extremely disappointed at the low level of funding being administered by the Arts Council and DCMS for Nightclubs, Events Spaces, Supply Chain and attributory businesses within the Night Time Economy”
“We have constantly reminded the Government of the vital importance that this sector presents in terms of economic value, workforce and the important cultural and community contributions that they have made during the pandemic and as part of the global network of contemporary music and events culture of which the UK is a leader”

“When you are asked by the Culture Department what the value, or economic and cultural contribution of Club Culture & the Electronic Music Scene is in the UK, you realise that there is a clear divide between classic culture and contemporary music culture and these misconceptions run deep, and create huge divides”
“This Industry needs to be valued and recognised, the Cultural Department within Government should be experts in this Industry given its huge contribution to tourism, regeneration, employment, culture and HMT, and should be supported accordingly”

“Many who have been disappointed for the second time are considering legal options to challenge this process”

Jeremy Joseph CEO G.A.Y & Heaven Says:
“To say I’m absolutely gutted would be an understatement, I literally felt sick when I found out the Arts Council decided not to award Heaven Nightclub & G-A-Y a Culture Recovery Fund Grant. They obviously believe that paying out £1.3m in bills since pandemic started, No insurance payout despite over £200,000 in insurance costs since the pandemic started, trying to do the right thing and pay all bills, out of 160 staff only one redundancy despite monthly bills of £25,000 for NI & Pensions, the list goes on but despite all this means G-A-Y doesn’t qualify for a recovery grant. Maybe I should have followed other business models and paid out no one, gone into debt, put other companies in debt by not paying them, obviously they believe that’s the only way to qualify.”

“This is more than just about financial help, this was also about being told what you do, deserves support, being told that your business holds significance, that you as an independent owned business deserves support, that your business is culturally worthwhile, Heaven being an LGBT for 41 years means nothing to them, I’m not Richard Branson with Virgin backing him, the link is he’s a previous owner, I’m an individual on my own trying to get through this. they play a game with your life, dangle a carrot of hope and then in one email take it away from you.”

“The Arts Council does not factor that these grants are more than just money, they support emotionally & financially. They held off giving decisions until the end of March, when actually we really needed this money at the start of lockdown, but instead they made you wait over 3 months to hear about grants. Back in December you are hanging in there, zero income, but the bills keep coming in and your only hope is the Culture Recovery Fund Grant. We applied for over £900,000. As that was a figure of bills due in, rent, rates, insurance, PRS, the list goes on. The only grant of recovery support we have had was £38,000 from the Mayor of London & literally that money was spent in seconds on electrical testing, weight loading, water bills.”

“I made a conscious decision not to go for the first round of grants because we were trying to do the right thing. At that point reopening last July after the 1st lockdown, we managed to be innovative, we re-opened Heaven as the biggest LGBT bar with a reduced capacity from 1625 to 255 but we decided we could make it work & not have to apply for Government support, but it all changed with the 10 pm curfew and even being open, we were losing between £3000 a day. we wrote to the Arts Council saying circumstances had changed & their response was that the applications were closed but there would be a 2nd wave, so when they were, we applied. I had one landlord charging me full rent for a closed venue and then they sold the freehold making a £20m profit. they screwed us for rent & then make £20 million, how is that fair? & now this, I’m done, I literally want to call its a day, the last bit of fight has been taken out of me. So thank you Arts Council, because you have failed nightclubs. The last part of hospitality to re-open, Where is the support for nightclubs.”

“I hope the people within the arts Council who made the decision for the grants sleep well tonight because I won’t, you have made me feel worthless.”

Eats Everything – DJ / Artist & Producer Says:
“I’m extremely disappointed to not receive and help from the arts council and DCMS on the grounds of “I haven’t done enough to show how my business will be viable from July 2021 – March 2022” when my current management company & previous management company both received funding, so surely if they are viable, I must also be. Because I’m partly responsible for their viability.”

“I understand there is a big pot of people to help out. But the grounds that I was refused are totally unjust. We worked extremely hard on the application and the question where the failure happened was thoroughly answered and proved my ongoing viability ten-fold.”

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About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about many genres of music from Breakbeat and Drum & Bass to Techno and Electronica. A man that lives in a world of bass and beats, Ian is an obsessive collector of music and a true geek at heart, with many years spent in application design.