July 2020 - Covid 19 Easing & Back to Work

What is being proposed?

Whilst the future of the performing arts remains uncertain many members will be taking advantage of the loosening of restrictions on where people can work and the more flexible furloughing scheme to bring people back to work. A government “road map” proposes the stages below for re-opening live performing arts venues. Stages One, Two and Three now apply.

Stage One - Rehearsal & training (no audiences/adhering to social distancing guidelines).

Stage Two - Performances for broadcast/recording purposes (adhering to social distancing guidelines).

Stage Three - Performances outdoors with a limited and social distanced audience. (The Government will also be working with the sector to pilot a number of small indoor performances with a social distanced audience to help inform plans about how best to get indoor venues back up and running.)

Stage Four – Performances allowed indoors & outdoors, with limited distance audience indoors.

Stage Five - Performances allowed indoors/outdoors, with a fuller audience indoors.

Substantial guidance on returning to performing arts work is available on the gov.uk website, particularly important are Section 2, which includes guidance on what to do if someone needs to self-isolate and Section 3, which deals with social distancing in the performing arts environment.


Funding:

Scotland: The Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund of £10m for RFOs & non-RFOs aims to:
• Remove the threat of insolvency prior to the end of March 2021
• Allow for to return from furlough or avoid redundancy to work on future sustainability plans.
• Increase opportunities for contracting freelance artists/creative practitioners

*Government fund for arts and culture: * £1.57bn “investment to protect Britain’s cultural, arts and heritage institutions” announced at the weekend includes:-
• £1.15bn mix of grants and loans for cultural organisations in England.
• £100m of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.
• £120m capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure in England that was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
• An extra £188m for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33m), Scotland (£97m) and Wales (£59m).

National Lottery Project Grants: Open for applications from 22 July 2020 until April 2021.

Kick-starting Tourism Package: A £10m fund for small businesses in tourist destinations giving grants of up to £5k to help them adapt following the CoVid19 pandemic.
Kick-Start Job Scheme: This is to create new jobs for 16-24 year olds who are at risk of long-term unemployment. The Government will reimburse employers for the first six months’ wages, and make a contribution to cover overheads. Employers must prove that they are "new" jobs which would not have been created without the scheme and they must provide at least 25 hours work per week paid at least the national minimum wage. Employers must also provide employees with support and training to help them find permanent employment.

Charity Survival Fund: The Charity Survival Fund is offering grants from £1k to £250k to UK charities with an annual income of less than £5m. Submission deadline is 5pm on 27 July 2020. Details of this fund and others for small charities can found on the Charities Aid Foundation website.

Financial support for voluntary, community and social enterprise: If your work is specifically helping the vulnerable, homeless or lonely you may be eligible for support from these government funds, more information here.

Furloughing: When the furlough scheme ends in October there will be a government “bonus” of £1k per employee who has been furloughed paid to employers, provided the employee remains employed for three months i.e: until January 2021 and is paid at least an average of £520 a month during that period.

If you are considering extending furlough arrangements or making longer term changes, such as flexible hours, lay-off arrangements or pay reductions, don’t forget that these must always be made with the consent of employees and properly documented as contractual alterations.


In the meantime:

There’s been a bit of talk about opening bars and cafes in performing arts venues, even though performances can’t happen before an indoor audience yet. It that’s something you’re considering take a look at the government guidance for bars, cafes and restaurants. To encourage people to return to eating out, the Government has introduced a new scheme that will give a discount of 50% off meals and non-alcoholic drinks (up to £10 per person) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August. Restaurants and outlets can register for the scheme from Monday 13 July and will be able to claim the money back weekly.
There is also guidance for the re-opening of multi-use community spaces, which signposts to guidance on a range of different activities that can take place in these spaces.


Working safely:

Whatever stage of the road map you are at you will need to ensure workplaces are “CoVid Secure” as soon as people are returning to them. Some of the basics include:-
• Stagger arrival and departure times so that people do not use entry and exit points at the same time.
• Provide handwashing facilities so people can wash their hands when they get into and leave work (provide hand sanitiser where this is not possible).
• Keep work areas 2 metres apart and allocate one person only to each work area. If this is not possible, then keep the number of people in each work area as low as possible.
• Use floor tape or paint to mark work areas
• Provide signage to remind people to keep a 2 m distance
• Use screens to create a physical barrier between people
• Have people working side-by-side rather than face-to-face

Additional information is available on the Health & Safety Executive website, from the Scottish government’s coronavirus guidance for employers in Scotland and from the Welsh government's guidance on maintaining physical distance in the workplace.


Track and trace:

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published guidance for venues that will have to put measures in place to collect customers’ and visitors’ personal information to support the various contact tracing schemes in the UK.
And there’s more CoVid19 related help and information on the ITC website including our CoVid19 A-Z and links to a range of other fora and information sources