Tiffany Cloynes Clare Hardy 27 July 2020

Protecting art in a crisis

Action taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus has had a serious impact on the arts. The requirement for venues to close for several weeks and the continuing need for social distancing has made it difficult for arts providers to provide effective services to the public. This caused concern about the long term future of some arts services.

The announcement by the UK Government of a £1.57bn support package for arts and culture was therefore very welcome. The support will be made up of support for cultural organisations through a mixture of grants and loans; targeted support for national cultural institutions in England; capital investment to restart construction on projects that were paused because of the coronavirus pandemic and funding for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The Government also announced a requirement for local authorities to have due regard to the current circumstances when considering an application for permission for change of use, development or demolition of a theatre, concert hall or live music performance venue where such venues are temporarily vacant because of the coronavirus. The Government is also removing permitted development rights for such venues. These changes are intended to ensure that temporary closure of venues during the pandemic does not lead to permanent loss of important cultural and economic assets.

Local authorities can play an important part in enabling arts and culture to flourish in their areas, by owning and managing arts and cultural venues themselves, by including them in regeneration schemes and in their decisions on planning applications. When taking decisions on resources, they face considerable pressure from other demands on their resources. They also need to take account of all their legal obligations, both from legislation and their own constitutions. They may also be affected by the circumstances in which they own or have access to arts assets.

For example, if something has been donated or lent to a local authority, this might be subject to conditions. They should also consider the impact of their decisions on the availability of grant funding, which can provide an important source of income for arts facilities. The approach taken by a local authority or governing body of an arts venue to management of assets may affect their eligibility for grants in general and their ability to comply with conditions associated with individual grants.

Local authorities will have a role to play in the impact on their areas of the Government’s support for arts and on the application of planning law. The following steps will help them to fulfil this role effectively:

  • Keeping their arts assets under review. Local authorities should ensure that they are aware of the resources needed to manage their assets and clear about how they will manage this. They should also be alert to opportunities for their assets to generate income. For example, the coronavirus pandemic will have an impact on the number of people who can visit arts venues but local authorities could consider making some art available on loan and using their charging power to generate an income.
  • Ensuring their decision-making is effective. They must observe all principles of lawful and reasonable decision-making. If they will be taking decisions in different capacities, for example as a landowner and as a local planning authority, they will need to ensure that there is appropriate separation of functions and that they do not create any impressions that decisions have been predetermined.
  • Ensuring that they are aware of all legal obligations which will affect their management, use and disposal of assets.
  • Taking account of the background to their acquisition of or access to arts assets and any constraints this will place on them.
  • Considering whether their approaches and decisions on the management of arts assets are compatible with the requirements of funding bodies and the potential impact this will have on their income.

Tiffany Cloynes is a partner and Clare Hardy is a senior associate at Geldards LLP

Skate parks are not the only fruit image

Skate parks are not the only fruit

On Go Skateboarding Day, Susannah Walker asks councils and their leisure and park departments to think differently about what facilities they provide for teenagers.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Adult Social Worker

Telford & Wrekin Council
£32,798 to £35,336
We use strengths and asset based approach in our practice. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Business Services Assistant

Leicestershire County Council
£20,046
The Business Services Team within the Environment & Transport Department is looking to recruit a Business Services Assistant. Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Business Services Assistant

Leicestershire County Council
£20,046
The Business Services Team within the Environment & Transport Department is looking to recruit a Business Services Assistant. Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Library Services Assistant

Leicestershire County Council
£20,046
As part of a team you will be responsible for providing an excellent, welcoming and efficient service to all customers. Ashby-De-La-Zouch, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Senior Health Improvement Officer

Leicestershire County Council
£42,552
Leicestershire County Council is looking to recruit a dynamic public health professional . Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicestershire County Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.