Don’t you love it when your day pans out in a way that you totally did not expect when you got up that morning? That happened to me a couple of Friday’s ago.
A random call from an unknown number turned out to be a researcher with Sky News. Would I be on a panel discussing the impact of the additional lockdown measures likely to be announced that day for Birmingham? With specific reference to the cultural sector? After a few moments of me ascertaining that I was the person they wanted, I agreed.
The plans changed over the course of the day and by late afternoon it was not a panel, it was just me and Sophy Ridge. I was asked to pre my three key points. Here they are:
1 Financial – the cultural sector is already hugely financially stretched. Some organisations receive some subsidy but it also relies on trading, ticket sales, hospitality etc to keep going. Local lockdowns will further hamper the ability to recover financially. Venues also generate income in neighbouring hospitality venues which would also be lost. The situation was precarious before, this could mean that cultural organisations close down.
2 Uncertainty – a local lockdown throws carefully laid re-opening plans into question. Some of our major institutions – the Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham Hippodrome are finding ways to create COVID safe experiences and, depending on the severity of the lockdown, that could be thrown into disarray.
3 Confidence – audience confidence to attend events is going to be completely crucial. “Eat out to Help Out” has helped diners feel more comfortable and confident about going out, local lockdowns undermine the less confident and stops those who are confident from participating.
You can see if I managed to stick to the script in the video below. I dodged a couple of opportunities to “be controversial” or outspoken about the timing of the lockdown and the future of our High Street but journalists have to ask, I guess.
Thanks to my mother Hortense for filming the interview on her phone and to my good friend Phil Clarkson for editing it to smarten it up! Here’s the interview if you missed it.