Marie Claire is shining a spotlight on the creative industries impacted by months of lockdown with our Save The Arts campaign (#savethearts) which brings together talented creatives to share their heartfelt stories from 2020, fronted by Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward
The pandemic has hit us all hard and reshaped many working lives. We clapped the NHS heroes working tirelessly to keep us healthy, we smiled behind our masks at the frontline workers stocking our supermarkets, we left ‘Thank you. Stay safe’ notes for our refuse collectors. While many professions had no choice but to rise to the challenges of a global plague, other equally viable careers were left fighting to survive as the coronavirus locked down the country not once but twice.
A forgotten crisis
We’ve reported on the carnage on the high street, with thousands of jobs under threat as brands try to navigate a world that’s increasingly shopping online. But this week we’re turning the spotlight on another entire industry, the UK creative industry, which is in dire need of help following a year when many theatres and music venues have remained closed and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost.
Our once-booming UK creative industry previously made for impressive reading. The sector contributed £10.8bn to the economy last year. And you don’t have to be a maths or economics genius to realise these stats make it an industry worth fighting for.
The UK creative industry contributes:
* £2.8 billion a year to the Treasury in taxation
* Employs over 2 million people, double the financial services
* The fashion industry supports 890,000 jobs
The creative economy makes an enormous contribution to the economy estimated to be £13 million per hour and, before the pandemic hit, was one of the fastest-growing sectors contributing £111 billion in 2018.
But the arts are under threat like never before, taking a seismic hit in 2020. From job cuts to the closures of theatres, museums, galleries, music venues and cancellation of festivals – the threat is systemic. The UK creative industry has been crippled by COVID-19 and government restrictions, and while there are small signs of recovery (a tiny number of theatres have briefly opened under socially-distanced guidelines), this is not enough. Hundreds of thousands of professional freelancers, the backbone of the industry, and whose careers are woven into the fabric of our once booming world-leading arts economy are now trying to make ends meet and many are struggling with mental health issues.
While the government has pledged a £1.57 billion rescue package, it’s mainly aimed at larger cultural institutions and not the freelancers that comprise almost half of the workforce, many of whom have been out of work since the pandemic hit in March.
Backing Marie Claire’s Save The Arts campaign are some of the UK’s most-talented women in their chosen creative field. All this week we’ll be sharing their personal stories from 2020 and raising the curtain on the cultural crisis sweeping the nation. And, most importantly, we’ll tell you how you can help the freelance professionals.
Spearheading our Save The Arts is Francesca Hayward, principal dancer at the Royal Ballet. Watch her exclusive Marie Claire video and read her interview with editor-in-chief, Andrea Thompson.
With her eagerly-anticipated debut as Odette in Swan Lake put on hold, Hayward threw her efforts into supporting the arts instead. She appeared in short film, Where We Are as a result – a project designed to capture thoughts and reflect the frustrations of those unable to perform or create during lockdown. She also joined fundraiser, Swans For Relief, as well as starring in the Royal Opera House’s first performance since lockdown streamed live on YouTube.
Joining forces with Francesca across our Marie Claire platforms are creative powerhouses including playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, actress and poet Jade Anouka, violinist Jess Murphy, theatre director Ola Ince, playwright Beth Steel, singer/songwriter Call Me Loop, Joanna Payne, founder of arts network Marguerite, choreographer Emma Jayne Park and theatre director Rachel Bagshaw.
Reading their pandemic life stories will only confirm to you why culture keeps us happy, thriving and inspired. How many of us would have survived this year without books, music, art or watching TV, film and theatre online?
Theatre Artists Fund – how you can help
Marie Claire is teaming up with the Theatre Artists Fund. This crucial lifeline funded by voluntary donations gives short-term relief in the form of £1000 grants to theatre workers and freelancers in urgent need of financial support (ones not eligible for government aid and left in unemployed limbo since theatres closed on March 16). Freelancers make up around 70% of the 290,000-strong UK theatre workforce, and you can support these talented people who create the arts, by donating whatever you can spare to the Theatre Artists Fund and help Save The Arts with Marie Claire. If you think you may be eligible for a grant, you can find all information on how to apply at the Theatre Artists Fund website.
Set up by film and theatre director Sam Mendes and The Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, the fund was launched in July with a £500,000 donation from Netflix and has since gained additional star-power support from many more including Downton’s Michelle Dockery, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Imelda Staunton and Eddie Redmayne. To date Theatre Artists Fund has helped 4,600 people across the UK.
* Get involved with our Save The Arts campaign this week via our social media platforms @marieclaireuk #savethearts