More must be done for York’s self-employed – city leaders

Reyahn King. Photograph: York Museums Trust

More must be done to help the artists, musicians and self-employed people in the creative sector – according to York’s cultural leaders.

And organisations from across the city have teamed up to write to the government – asking for more to be done for freelance and self-employed people.

The letter to the Secretary of State for the Ministry for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden is signed by

  • Cllr Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture
  • Sean Bullick, managing director of Make It York
  • and Reyahn King, chief executive of York Museums Trust.

The letter calls for protection for the income of freelance and self-employed artists and other people working in the creative sector.

What the letter says

“The cultural, creative and voluntary sectors are the lifeblood of our communities.

“They support our wellbeing, enrich our lives and have vast economic benefits.

“While the package of support for employers and employees is an extraordinary and most welcome intervention, a third of the UK’s creative workforce is self-employed, and the freelance artists, creative practitioners and other workers in our sectors will be seriously affected by loss of income due to the pandemic.

“The Creative Industries Federation survey last week showed that 60 per cent of freelance respondents estimate their income will decrease by over 50 per cent in 2020 due to this crisis.”

‘Important to the city’

Cllr Darryl Smalley

Cllr Darryl Smalley said the government measures so far to support businesses and workers are welcome – but that more needs to be done for the self-employed, and for the cultural and creative industries.

He said: “It’s not just about high culture, it’s about all our creative industries, from York Theatre Royal to York’s music venues.

“York’s cultural and creative industries are one of the reasons it is consistently named one of the best places to live.

“They are important to our city.”

He also added that he “cannot thank the council’s staff enough” for all the work they are already doing to support residents through the coronavirus crisis.