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State of the Region 2020 Full Report

Impact on our leisure, culture and tourism

93% of audiences are saying they are missing attending events, 55% look forward to supporting their local venue but only 17% are making bookings (50% of these past November). Only 19% would return to attending events just because venues reopen. 41% would not consider booking for events for at least 4 months and . want to see some distancing measures. There are 30,418 arts, culture, heritage or science charities nationally, about 15% of charitable sector nationally. Majority have had to close, having a significant impact on ability to generate income and deliver social benefits within communities. Charities reported projected loss of 48% income. 98% of heritage organisations were impacted within the first three weeks and the remaining 2% expecting impact in the future. 69% reported lost income and 91% cancelled or postponed events. 82% of organisations reported high or moderate risk to the long-term viability and 46% could survive no more than 6 months. Regionally creative and cultural businesses have been hit harder than most sectors by Covid-19. Even the 80% salary support is insufficient for many to keep staff on as they are often facing cancellation of all of their current contracts with no idea when work will resume. The City of Culture events, which would have generated significant sectoral growth, have also been pushed back to May 2021.

30% of the UK’s creative workforce are self-employed (vs national average 15%). Within wider creative industries, 42% of freelancers/self-employed predict an annual decrease in income of more than 75% during 2020, and 63% of organisations predict a decrease in annual turnover of more than 50%. 62% of freelancers/self-employed and 42% of all organisations estimate that their monthly income or turnover has decreased by 100% since the outbreak. Regionally, organisations/individuals concerned about income for next 6 months; 71% of organisations and 63% of individuals expecting to earn less than 25% compared with same period last year. 34% of organisations have no reserves with 23% having less than . in next three months. 28% of individual respondents have no savings at all. 50% of organisations report refocused their priorities, 62% furloughing all or some of their workforce. Good levels of awareness of sector support measures but low take up due to uncertainties about eligibility. 22% of organisations expect to be trading again immediately once lockdown lifted, 25% confident trading within 3 months. 47% are somewhat confident that their business will recover within 12 months.

Tourism (many cultural & heritage organisations are also visitor attractions, with heritage-based tourism alone worth £20.2billion to the UK economy per annum.): 40% of businesses surveyed had closed/ceased trading and only 36% expect to be still open/trading at the end of April, with the figure falling to 32% at the end of June, 25% at the end of August and 20% at the end of September 

In Birmingham all cultural sector events and festivals have been cancelled or postponed to later in the year of 2021. There will be a competition for dates and audiences and will also put pressure on available spaces for future events

In Birmingham, snapshot survey data at the end of March showed that between 18 organisations and 15 freelancers, an average of 75% of freelancer contracts were cancelled with total lost income £90k. Estimated losses for organisations were £5.3m (between 3-6 months) and value of cancelled freelance contracts £1.2m . In Coventry evidenced 31 freelancers reporting a total loss of just over £500k with average loss per member £16,657. Summer was also identified as the busiest time of the year with majority of income generated through this period. It is likely this is reflected in other parts of the region.

  • 34% of creative businesses have no reserves and 1/5 of businesses say income has gone down by 100%

  • 40% of tourism businesses have closed; and 75% of freelancer contracts have been cancelled

Creative Freelancers

Coventry and Warwickshire LEP have carried out an analysis of the freelancer gap, where funding and support is missing for those who are self employed, which affects the creative and cultural industries specifically. 

Covid-19 and the subsequent economic impact has highlighted a lack of understanding and awareness of our freelancer eco-system, particularly within the creative industries. Before Covid-19, creative industries were growing at five times the rate of the rest of the UK economy generating £11.7 billion in GVA and exporting £46 billion in goods and services. 2m people are directly employed by the sector and it is underpinned by a significant and diverse freelance workforce estimated to be an additional average headcount of 34% across all industries, with some sub-sectors as high as 50%.

Covid-19 has presented serious challenges for all businesses, but particularly for the creative industries. The recent Creative Industries Federation survey (March 2020) indicated that 42% of creative freelancers predict an annual decrease in income of more than 75% during 2020 and 63% of creative organisations predict an annual turnover decrease of more than a conservatively estimated loss of at least £55 million in GVA this year. Even more concerning is the lack of support available to ensure the survival of our creative industries and freelancer community: nationally 40% of organisations and freelancers were not able to access Government support5 Applied to Coventry & Warwickshire, that is a conservatively estimated loss of at least £55 m in GVA this year. Even more concerning is the lack of support available to ensure the survival of our creative industries and freelancer community: nationally 40% of organisations and freelancers were not able to access Government support.

Although not statistically significant enough as a sample, the average loss of income per organisation was £108,333 in just one month. With an estimated 1138 creative businesses in Coventry city alone, that equates to at least £123m lost to the sector from mid-March to mid-April. With the national picture showing that 40% of creative organisations have not been able to access any Government support to mitigate against lost income, this situation presents a substantial risk to our regional eco-system.

To date, Covid-19 Government support schemes have focused on businesses with commercial premises; those with permanently employed staff; or the self-employed with provable income. Most creative freelancers do not fit into these categories. Our lack of regional awareness about our creative freelance community is clear from the lack of sector specific recorded statistics. 51,200 people identify themselves as self-employed across Coventry & Warwickshire and 26,900 identify as working but not in ‘permanent employment ’; yet we do not know how many of these contribute to the creative industries. Creative freelancers often register themselves as Directors of private limited companies without PAYE employees or premises and this has been problematic in terms of business support before the pandemic as well as during. Creative freelancers have been unable to access European funded business support requiring job creation and capital investment. Even the recent West Midlands Combined Authority £2m pilot programme for creative industries focuses on ‘scale-up’.

West Midlands Growth Company has developed a series of post Covid forecast scenarios for the likely performance this year and next year for inward investment and tourism, they align with the general thinking across forecasters but apply directly to the West Midlands Economy.

Drivers and enablers

Potential outcomes

                      Strong Bounce Back

Key markets for the region such as China, India, the US and Germany emerge strongly from lockdown

A release of pent up demand in FDI and in-bound tourism from key source markets

The trend to near-shoring and localisation of supply chains to combat Covid-19 disruption continues, boosting in-bound investment in our critical transport technologies and advanced manufacturing clusters

UK and WM business and consumer confidence bounces back

The UK emerges successfully from the lockdown in late summer

The region’s business conferences and events market begins to recover

The government negotiates an orderly exit from the EU with a trade deal at the end of 2020

There is a boom in staycations, domestic day trips and city breaks in the region –facilitated by planned improvements to the transport infrastructure and Coventry City of Culture

Air bridges are established with the region’s key markets for tourism, trade and investment

The Commonwealth Games Tourism Trade and Investment (CWG TTI) programme helps accelerate these trends, hitting all its targets for inward investment, capital investment, business and leisure tourism attraction 

The UK government announces a budget for jobs and growth in the autumn



Drivers and enablers

Potential outcomes

                         Sluggish Recovery

Global storm clouds gather with an escalation of geo-political tensions and trade wars -with hot spots in some of our key markets such as China, the US and the GEC

Sluggish growth in in-bound investment and tourism

No deal Brexit, WTO rules and tariffs

UK and WM business and consumer confidence bounces back

The region’s USP’s and ability to compete in the market as a business, investment and tourism location are depleted

Tourism sector sees only limited, mainly local growth in demand –notably the VFR market


The CWG TTI programme only partially hits its outcome targets

Drivers and enablers

Potential outcomes

                            Second Wave

Lockdown re-imposed in the UK and in the region’s key markets for trade, tourism and investment

Recovery in key in-bound markets delayed until H2 2021


Tourism and investment in the region continues to flat-line until 2022 at the earliest. The pace and shape of recovery thereafter is uncertain