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Britain could become a ‘cultural wasteland’ due to pandemic, top names warn

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Architects at Hawkins\Brown and the chief executive of the RIBA have joined more than 400 leading creative figures in calling for urgent financial support for the creative industries from the government

The open letter, from the Creative Industries Federation and signed by RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance and David Bickle and Hazel York of Hawkins\Brown, warned thousands of creative organisations and professionals are falling through the gaps of existing government support measures during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Caroline Norbury, the Creative Industries Federation’s chief executive, wrote that the UK’s world-leading creative industries are ‘in deep trouble’ and might not survive without urgent cash support.

As reported last week, one in 10 of the anonymous respondents to the AJ’s second coronavirus survey thinks their practice is in danger of going under.

Last month architects also warned of ‘permanent damage’ to the profession because the government’s scheme to help the self-employed excludes owner-directors of limited companies paid via dividend from the companies’ profits, a common way for architecture practices to be set up.

‘Creativity is an intrinsic part of the UK’s cultural identity, and one of the things that the country excels at globally,’ Norbury wrote. ‘It is through harnessing this creativity that the UK will begin to build a new future.’

The value of the creative industries expands far beyond their contribution to the economy

Vallance said: ‘The value of the UK creative industries expands far beyond their huge contribution to the economy. Their work supports our wellbeing, which is now more important than ever.’

The letter, sent to chancellor Rishi Sunak and culture secretary Oliver Dowden, was also signed by figures including Anish Kapoor, Grayson Perry, PJ Harvey and Stephen Fry, plus Design Museum director Tim Marlow and chief executive of the Design Council Sarah Weir.

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