A number of constituents linked with the UK Cinema Association have contacted me about the situation facing cinemas during the pandemic.
The Government claims that cinemas have been supported during the COVID-19 pandemic through both sector-specific and economy-wide measures. For example, over 200 independent cinemas have received funding from a £30 million pot allocated from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF). Cinemas will be able to apply for another £14 million in grants under the CRF in 2021 and have also been eligible to apply to Arts Council England’s Repayable Finance scheme, with a total of £100 million available.
In addition, cinemas have been able to access the furlough scheme, which has been extended until 30 April 2021 and enables eligible employees to receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Further support measures include a VAT cut on tickets and concessions, a business rates holiday and Bounce Back Loans.
As a result of the national lockdown currently in place, businesses that are forced to close will receive up to £3,000 for each 28-day period affected. Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors can also apply for a one-off grant worth up to £9,000 per property.
While it is certainly good news that several independent cinemas will be supported through the CRF and I welcome any support for businesses struggling under coronavirus restrictions, sadly this will not help those businesses that have already had to shut permanently. For months, I have supported calls for the UK Government to get ahead of this crisis and to target support at the sectors hit hardest.
The cinema industry was absolutely viable before COVID-19 and it will be afterwards. The sooner we get the virus under control and get Britain vaccinated, the sooner we can reopen the economy.