Adapting to COVID-19 over the last 12 months…

Fasten your seatbelts folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride for some of your favourite arts organisations in the UK over coming months.

With over a third of recent applications to the English DCMS Culture Recovery Fund rejected outright as demand exceeds available funds, a host of vital organisations will struggle to continue operating.

As an extension of our ongoing CLASH Cares initative we took part in the Culture Recovery Fund Round Two. Here’s our timeline of events and some of our learnings to date.

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COVID-19 OUTBREAK MARCH 2020:

March 2020 saw CLASH start to adapt our ways of working around COVID-19. As a quarterly print magazine retailed via high street newsstands and direct sales to our customers door it was evident immediate changes were required to successfully deliver Spring Issue 115.

With team working from home, our production studios & office closed, insurance company refusing to offer any support from the disruption to trading and our business ineligible for small business rates relief – we struck out on a solo path.

With our freelance network also finding very few viable avenues for support from the UK government, as a business we were collectively facing a series of stark decisions and austerity measures.

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SEEKING GUIDANCE & SUPPORT:

CLASH repeatedly sought funding guidance from the Arts Council.

The advice provided remains unclear as to whether our company being registered as a business in Scotland, yet operating and headquartered in London were eligible to submit to the DCMS England Culture Recovery Fund.

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ADAPTING TO COVID-19:

Here are some highlights from the measures we implemented to adapt to COVID-19 over the previous 12 months:

• CLASH Spring Issue 115 presented an opportunity to amplify the governments ‘Stay Home’ messaging to our audience whilst championing UK artists.

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ADAPTING TO COVID-19 – CLASH HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS:

• CLASH launched the CLASH Cares initiative supporting young musicians and fashion designers with social activations and fund raising activity.

• CLASH self financed the covid-proofing of CLASH Studios complex enabling safe, remote bookings and rentals of our space using vital financial reserves.

• CLASH commenced work on an accompanying digital reader version of the magazine and digital subscription model.

• CLASH co-hosted Spoony’s House livestreams, supporting DJ Spoony’s admirable efforts in raising over £25k for the NHS.

• CLASH launched a new long read digital feature – Platform #PLTFRM, providing an additional monthly promotional opportunity to emerging creatives.

• CLASH adapted our monthly CLASH Live event residencies and 2020 festival stage plans into a host of livestream concerts and activity broadcast across our digital channels. Raising funds and awareness for arts initiatives and musicians alike.

• CLASH launched the now highly commended #BathroomSessions initiative with Water Aid and provided a platform for the UK arts to shine when touring was on hold. 

RAYE – CLASH X WATERAID #BATHROOMSESSIONS PERFORMANCE:

ADAPTING TO COVID-19 – CLASH HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS:

• CLASH converted our packaging for shipping magazines to fully recyclable envelopes, disposable at doorstep.

• CLASH adapted our direct distribution model to ensure magazines arrived with customers safely without them leaving their homes.

• CLASH provided references for partners in their fundraising endeavours, championing organisations into Round One and Round Two of the Culture Arts Recovery application process.

• CLASH adapted our monthly CLASH Radio show on Rinse FM to remote recording, championing arts creatives to our audience throughout lockdown.

• CLASH launched a fundraising fashion contest and initiative with our good friends at Hype and a host of other content initiatives supporting emerging creatives.

• CLASH launched our own music for good record label MSC_RPBLC in conjunction with UMG and released a pilot single supporting mental health awareness initiative VOID.

• CLASH launched a remote learning music workshop programme tasking ourselves with creating further pathways into the arts for differently abled artists whilst also normalising the conversation around employing visually impaired and differently abled creatives. 

• CLASH published Issue 116 ‘Global Youthquake’ in the Autumn of 2020, continuing to champion UK arts on the global stage.

• CLASH launched our new digital reader companion realised during lockdown adapting our publishing means to generate new income.

• CLASH brought the nation Kurupt FM’s MC Grindah for an alternative Christmas speech.

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AUTUMN 2020, ISSUE 116 BEABADOOBEE – CLASH DIGITAL READER LAUNCHES:

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WINTER 2020:

We applauded beneficiaries of Round One grants and were keen to support any practitioners that had fallen through the cracks.

To aid others in their recovery CLASH team spent the fall of last year and January ’21 taking part in Arts Council Culture Recovery Fund Round Two surgery calls.

Our aim was to learn more about the UK governments emergency relief measures and to feed learnings back into our ongoing CLASH Cares activity. 

As part of an upcoming CLASH Film project we spoke to a host of arts industry professionals on their experiences, we are acutely aware of the effect of COVID-19 on arts practitioners health and livelihood.

With CLASH regularly cited by Arts Council staff during surgery calls as a source of reference for others to use in their bids, we naturally offered our services to our partner network in writing testaments for their Round Two applications. 

In the fall of last year, we were proud to partner with O2 Music. Tasked specifically with supporting and amplifying artists announcing their rescheduled tour dates. Furthering the live music industry’s recovery during and following the interval on live music.

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SPRING 2021 – CLASH ELIGIBILITY FOR CULTURAL RECOVERY FUND ROUND TWO SUBMISSION;

As we learned more about the Culture Recovery funding process during surgery calls and email conversations with the Arts Council, we were informed that in fact our business may have been eligible to apply for Round One funding.

This remains a grey area, had we received information regarding our eligibility early in 2020 then like many of our peers we would have submitted an application for Round One.

Had we been informed of our eligibillity within the 3 month window allowed folllowing a decision for complaints into the handling of the process to be considered, we would have requested to have our circumstances reviewed.

In turn, if succesful in Round One we may have been able to better provide for our freelance creative network in 2020 and adapt further to COVID-19 utilising DCMS Culture Recovery Grant funding.

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CLASH CULTURE RECOVERY FUND ROUND TWO SUBMISSION OUTCOME:

With Round Two funding deadline imminent we had a very limited amount of time in January to create our bid.

Our bid for Round Two of the Culture Recovery Fund was regrettably unsuccessful.

Due to the high volume of submissions the Arts Council were unable to provide much in the way of insight to that decision.

In CLASH’s instance, the rationale we were provided simply stated that we had “failed to sufficiently adapt to COVID-19”.

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SEEKING LEARNINGS:

We applaud all the worthy organisations who have been successful in Round One and Round Two.

We thank everyone who invested time and energy into our application at the last minute and thank the team at the Arts Council and DCMS who have worked incredibly hard to support the UK Arts through the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have this week contacted the Arts Council for more informaton. We hope to enter into further dialogue on our experiences at the earliest opportunity.

Whilst we seek advice it’s a chance to reflect and look for additional ways to recover from the challenges COVID-19 has presented and further adapt our business to better support the UK Arts.

The Night Time Industry’s Assocation have published their shock and frustration today that less than 20 night clubs have received funding from the latest round of grants.

NTIA Statement:

“The NTIA are eager, alongside hundreds of unsuccessful businesses, to understand the criteria with which some of these decisions have been made.

There is a huge amount of frustration within the sector, as many of the reasons for denial do not correlate with the applications, forcing many to question the criteria and assessment process.

With limited success for many NTE Businesses we have to consider who is representing the sector within DCMS and ACE, but looking at the Cultural Recovery Board we clearly have no representation from the sector, and it is broadly represented by the classic arts sector.

There are inconsistencies between different applications and their viability assessments which has led to funding being declined, with no recourse for appeal, this has left people deflated and let down.”

NTIA Feedback from Unsuccessful Applicants Included:

* Businesses who have survived over 12 months of this pandemic have failed due to their adaptability, leaving many in disbelief given the hardships they have faced and the adaptations they have made to keep their businesses going.

* Some businesses were assessed as culturally significant in Round (1) CRF and have been deemed not significant enough in CRF Round (2)

*Artists agents/management receiving cultural recovery funding, where the artist, who is fundamental to the success of these businesses are being denied.

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SUPPORT CLASH:

You can subscribe, buy copies of CLASH Magazine and order our merchandise delivered safely to your door via our webstore; www.theclashshop.com.

You can also buy digital copies of CLASH Magazine via our new digital reader here.

We are planning to launch a new supporter scheme, more information to follow.

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SEEKING HELP?

There is no formal appeal process for Culture Recovery Fund decisions at present.

If you are an individual or organisation at risk you can however still seek support from the Arts Council and other independent charitable bodies.

You can seek advice by contacting the Arts Council for more information via: enquiries@artscouncil.org.uk

If you are struggling to deal with pressure there are other avenues you can turn to for help. Please contact the CLASH Team via socials @ClashMagazine or via email to press@clashmusic.com.

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OTHER SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS

Here are some other organisations that can provide immediate support;

Mind

Mind Infoline: 0300 123 3393

Mind.org.uk

The Mind Info Line offers thousands of callers confidential help on a range of mental health issues.  Mind helps people take control of their mental health. We do this by providing high-quality information and advice, and campaigning to promote and protect good mental health for everyone.

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The Samaritans

Tel: 116 123

Samaritans

Samaritans is availlable round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Please call 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org

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