Financial resources for creative industry professionals during COVID-19 pandemic

25 Mar 2020

This article was updated on 8 April to reflect the fact that the UK's Covid-19 Film and TV relief fund is now live.

Like many other businesses such as retailers and restaurants, the creative industries are being affected by the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. From Cannes Film Festival to Eurovision 2020, a number of large events have been postponed or cancelled, and many productions such as the upcoming Bond film No Time To Die have been pushed back to later in the year. 

We understand that many of our alumni community work in sectors that have been impacted by the delay or cancellation of such events and projects, and as a consequence may be struggling financially. In addition to our recent ‘Money Management Tips for Freelancers’ article, we have put together this guide covering a range of financial relief that covers the different creative disciplines taught at SAE. 

What government support is available to all creatives?

  • The Government has now announced that all homeowners will be able to claim a three-month break from their mortgage repayments if they are unable to pay because of coronavirus.
  • The Government has also put emergency legislation in place to protect renters and prevent evictions from social or private rented accommodation “while this national emergency is taking place”. 
  • HMRC have indicated that they may relax the rules on tax liabilities during this period. If you’re concerned about your ability to pay a tax bill, contact HMRC’s coronavirus helpline as soon as possible on 0800 015 9559 

What government support is available to self-employed creatives? 

  • Self-employed workers who are not eligible for statutory sick pay will be able to claim contributory Employment Support Allowance. This will now be available from day one, rather than after a week.
  • Universal Credit remains available for self-employed workers. In the recent budget, it was announced that there will be a temporary halt to the minimum floor element of this benefit, which will have a positive impact on self-employed applicants. 

What government support is available to creatives who run their own business?

  • In response to COVID-19 the UK Government announced there would be financial support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. The UK Government has provided guidance on those who are eligible to apply for the Small Business Grants Fund - which could offer a grant of £10,000.
  • The Scottish Government has a Coronavirus Business Support Fund available to help businesses deal with the impact of the pandemic on their operations. 

What non-government support is available to creative industry professionals? 

  • Arts Council England wants to support artists, creative practitioners and freelancers as best as they can in this crisis. They are making £20 million of financial support available to individuals, so they can better sustain themselves, and their work, in the coming months. Artists and creative practitioners will be able to apply for grants of up to £2,500 if they have a track record in publicly funded culture.  This fund is open to those who work in music, theatre, dance, visual arts, literature, combined arts and museums practice. This includes choreographers, writers, translators, producers, editors, freelance educators in the disciplines and artforms we support, composers, directors, designers, artists, craft makers and curators. More details can be found here. 
  • BECTU have some helpful guidelines regarding your entitlement as a freelancer working in film and TV
  • Organisations such as The BFI and The Film and TV Charity have partnered to create a COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to help support the film industry, which was set up with a £1m donation from Netflix, and will be available for creative professionals who work in production, distribution and exhibition. Applications for the one-off grants can be made via The Film and TV Charity’s website here.
  • If you are in immediate and urgent need of financial support, you should apply to The Film and TV Charity’s existing hardship fund, which can provide grants of up to £500 to provide stop-gap support. At the moment the organisation is focusing its support on people in immediate financial distress, for example, those with no access to funds for immediate living costs e.g. food and essential travel; those who have medical/health costs that they cannot meet and those who have exhausted all other reasonable options e.g. state support, savings, family support.
  • Help Musicians has set up a Coronavirus Financial Hardship Fund. Applications for this fund are submitted through an online form and offer a one-off payment of £500 per applicant.

What member-only financial support is there for creatives? 

  • PRS for Music has an Emergency Relief Fund which will be open for member applications from 9.00 am on Thursday 26 March, offering support to songwriters and composers during this period of hardship. PRS members wishing to apply for an Emergency Relief Fund grant can apply and find more details on the PRS For Music website.
  • Musicians’ Union members can also apply for their Coronavirus Hardship Fund, where you could get up to £200.

What forms of non-financial support are there for creative industry professionals?

  • The Film and TV Charity support line is open 24/7 to offer advice, signposting and a listening ear. Through the support line you can access the emotional and financial support services offered by the charity, including counselling, legal advice and financial grants: call the helpline on 0800 054 0000.
  • UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre (SOLT) Theatre Helpline is a free 24-hour phone and email service supporting theatre professionals (in-house or freelance) with any issue affecting their health and wellbeing. The confidential resource offers support and advice on a range of personal and professional topics, including bullying, physical and mental health, finance, careers and retirement issues.
  • Help Musicians can provide advice and support through - their Music Minds Matter support line is available anytime day or night for emotional support: call 0808 802 8008 (24hrs free support line).