Wales' creative industries 'face thousands of job losses' due to coronavirus pandemic

Sixteen thousand jobs could be lost in Wales amid the coronavirus pandemic if more isn't done to support the country's creative industries, according to a Senedd report out today.

An inquiry by the Culture Committee on the effect of the pandemic on the film, live music, theatre and arts sectors says many freelancers have had no paid work in months. 

Musician Maddie Jones was expecting a very busy 2020, but her projects have been badly disrupted due to the pandemic, with most jobs cancelled. "I'm not sure of the actual number of gigs that I've lost, but it is basically my entire income," Maddie told ITV News.

"I've managed to keep on with some stuff online, but imagine losing 90 per cent of your income. That's basically it. "Because our career keeps you on your toes anyway, you don't expect surety from what you're doing. But to spend all this time building up things, and then they're all gone in one swoop - it's quite scary."

Musician Maddie Jones has lost almost her entire income due to the pandemic.

Maddie and her partner have earned money from streaming gigs from home, but it's still a fraction of what they would otherwise have made from playing functions and their own projects.

But she remains optimistic and says they have come a long way from when lockdown first began, now trying to focus on what they can do instead of what they can't. The pandemic has also meant a struggle for the places that put on entertainment. Venues big and small say reopening with social distancing often doesn't make sense. Hywel Wigley, from Acapela studios, said: "The capacity is about 200 and we need about 70-80 per cent capacity in order to break even.

"On top of that we have bar staff - there's up to about 18 part-time staff here," he said.

"All have been furloughed. In order to make the place work, we need a critical number. Now social distancing, we wouldn't be able to cover the break even point. "There's a role for the government to step in here and intervene and help venues like us. When we are coming out of Covid-19, people will be looking forward to coming out - and it's important that we're here to serve the community."

Hywel Wigley from Acapela Studios

The UK Government said its rescue package for the arts industry means Wales would get £59 million pounds in funding. The Welsh Government will decide how that's spent and today the First Minister said an announcement was imminent.

Speaking at the Welsh Government's final daily press briefing, Mark Drakeford told journalists: "The conversations we are having, the plans we are drawing up, with the Arts Council for Wales and others, are drawing to a conclusion.

"There will be further ministerial meetings on that today. We'll confirm the final details at the start of next week, and we're optimistic now that we will be able to make detailed announcements."

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