The "key assumption… is that the fund effectively supports approximately 30% of firms in the sector that would otherwise be at risk".

Am I the only one who thinks 30% isn't very many for the whole of England and aren’t all organisations in the sector at some degree of risk, or past that and have already ceased operating?

I am indebted to London Editor Philip Fisher for reminding me that not long ago, Sonia Friedman estimated that 70% of theatres will have disappeared by the time we sing "Auld Lang Syne". If both Friedman and the report are right and only 30% of the 70% at risk are saved, then nearly half of England's theatres could cease to operate under this government's watch.

Nearly half. I wish my maths were wrong but I don’t think it is.

The report goes on to say that "by applying the Arts and Culture sector multiplier of 2.17—that is the total GVA supported for every £1 of GVA directly generated by the investment—it can be said that the CRF ends up supporting an aggregate cumulative GVA impact of approximately £1,400m, when considering direct GVA impacts alongside indirect and induced layers over the course of 2021 and 2022."

I am not entirely sure I understand what that means but I believe I understand enough to question whether one can, in good sense, apply a multiplier created in a very different world to the sector's present cataclysmic circumstances.

The report makes no mention of on what terms organisations will be operating in this magical new world, managing new debt and with no reserves, with insurance issues and often having lost its personnel, whilst at the same time envisaging that new organisations will replace the ones gone to the wall.

It makes no reference to audience numbers on which recovery will co-depend or that by the time all the funding is distributed the scenario could be worse than whilst they were number crunching, and their expectation that a two-year recovery period will start in 2021 will be even less likely than it looks now.

For me, the report is damned by its own words: "this report aims to estimate the positive impact the DCMS Cultural Recovery Fund will have on the Arts and Culture sector with respect to Gross Value Added".

It aimed to find a positive impact of throwing a pathetically small amount of financial support at a gargantuan and wide-reaching problem and by golly it was going to succeed.

And by picking a single criterion—Gross Value Added—and separating it out from the bigger picture and by caveating and proviso-ing and estimating and nominal-ling itself to extremes it has succeeded.

The point is of course that because of all that, the outcome is meaningless. The report has bestowed magical powers on the £825 million that will see it "effective accelerate[s] recovery" but it is all too clear that this is nothing more than misdirection, bunkum, smoke and mirrors, call it what you will.

Perhaps 'a lamentable attempt to validate the government's inadequate support of the arts sector'?

I would be delighted to be proved wrong and I encourage readers to review the CEBR report for themselves and tell me where my understanding of it has been found wanting.

Since writing this, the Arts Council has distributed roughly a third of the funding—£257 million to 1,385 creative organisations.

By region, the round one funding as gone to:


Number of Awards

Value of Award




East Midlands



West Midlands



North East



North West



Yorkshire & Humber



South East



East of England



South West












A more detailed breakdown is in a separate article.