Our world leading comedy industry is on the brink of collapse and runs the risk of being forgotten by emergency government arts funding.
Based on our industry survey conducted in June 2020:
- A third of comedy venues believe they’ll be forced to close within the next six months, with 77.8% facing closure within the next year.
- Over 45% of the industry have already given serious thought to leaving comedybecause of the pandemic, with just under 60% of all respondents predicting they’ll need to leave before February 2021 unless we’re able to get back to live performances.
- 5% of respondents have found their mental health negatively impactedby job and industry uncertainty during the pandemic.
- Over three quarters of performers have earnt less than 5% of their pre-pandemic estimated incomefrom online performances.
- Only 17.1% of promoters expect that post-pandemic they’ll be running 100% of the regular events they promoted before lockdown.
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- The UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government, Northern Ireland Executive
- Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland
Comedy has a long history of being overlooked as an artform, having never received any public funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Music, and Sport. Live comedy isn’t viewed as being equal to other art forms by funding bodies across the UK — the same funding bodies responsible for distributing this week's £1.57 billion support package.
This is despite comedy being a grassroots creative industry, which is accessible and inclusive to all, no matter your income, where you live, or your sense of humour. Ticket prices are cheaper than almost any other artform, and comedy takes place in every nation and region of the country, in dedicated spaces but also in pubs, music venues, and theatres in every town and city.
We believe that comedy is art and should be treated as such. As fans, audience members, and those who work in live comedy, we therefore ask:
- That Comedy is treated on a par with the rest of the performing arts sector by government and funding bodies, including being given the same access to the Cultural Rescue Package.
- For support to prevent job losses and a talent exodus from comedy, including an extension of the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme for the Performing Arts sector, and specific recognition and support of the self employed, freelancers and sole traders who are over 70% of our industry.
- For a clear timeline for reopening venues without social distancing. We recognise that this will be conditional on scientific advice and review from public health bodies, but the industry needs a precisely dated roadmap to work towards.
If the UK Governments do not act immediately and comprehensively to support the Live Comedy Industry, the sector will risk disappearing as an artform and cultural industry and the thousands of talented people, organisations and venues which make up the industry we love will face financial ruin.
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