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Covid-19: Scotland pumps £13m into stricken events sector

The Scottish Government has announced new funding of £13m to provide further support for the events sector in Scotland, much of which has been unable to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of this, £6m has been committed for the establishment of a fund to support those event businesses which are critical to Scotland’s events sector, and without which the capacity to deliver major events would be significantly reduced.

The Pivotal Event Businesses Fund will provide grants from £25,000 up to a maximum of £150,000 to support approximately 50 to 100 event businesses whose primary role as organisers, suppliers, contractors and venues is critical to the survival of the events sector in Scotland, and upon whom the wider events industry and supply chain are most reliant for their own business and operations.

Organisations applying to the fund must meet the eligibility criteria including having an annual turnover in excess of £500k prior to the Covid-19 pandemic; be directly involved in the delivery and organisation of at least five major events, festival or business events each year; employ a minimum number of staff, and events must be the primary source of the organisation’s income.

The fund is intended to support those pivotal businesses who operate at a size and scale in their sector and/or location where the loss or insolvency of that business would have a significant and detrimental impact on Scotland’s ability to continue to host and stage major events. Additionally, the fund will be targeted to support businesses which are experiencing critical financial problems that threaten insolvency or significant job losses due to the impact of Covid-19.

The remaining funding will be used to set up a separate fund to provide broader support to businesses across the full range of the events sector, including the supply chain, and will be announced early in the new year.

The latest funding follows the £10m announced by the Culture Secretary in July for the events industry, of which £6m was allocated to the now closed Event Industry Support Fund while £2m was allocated to Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund currently being run by EventScotland.

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said the events sector has faced “severe challenges” throughout 2020 as the restrictions necessary to contain the coronavirus pandemic have left most businesses unable to operate. “While the arrival of a vaccine offers grounds for hope, the events sector and its wider supply chain will continue to experience difficulties for some time to come,” she said.

“We were able to provide financial support for the events sector in the autumn, but we have continued to listen and we acknowledge that further funding is required. This additional £13m will allow us to help hard-pressed businesses going forward and ensure that they are ready to support the recovery when it is safe to operate again.”

The culture secretary added that Scotland is working with the industry to ensure that the sector has a future to look forward to.

The Pivotal Event Businesses Fund will be administered by VisitScotland, with eligible organisations first asked to complete an Expression of Interest form to demonstrate they meet the eligibility criteria. This form will go live at 12pm on Wednesday 16 December and will be open for one week until 5pm on Tuesday 22 December with full details of the process and requirements available on the VisitScotland website.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland director of events, acknowledged that Scotland’s events industry continues to be severely impacted by the ongoing effects of Covid-19. “The £6 million Pivotal Event Businesses Fund will provide vital funding to businesses critical to our industry’s survival, and without whom our capacity to deliver major events would be significantly reduced,” he said.

“Events play a key role in our communities by sustaining livelihoods and bringing, social, cultural and economic change so ensuring the industry’s survival is key to Scotland’s recovery from this pandemic.”

The full application process has been designed to ensure that funding reaches the businesses where it is needed the most to ensure the recovery of the sector. Organisations who have been in receipt of other Covid-19 funding are not excluded from submitting an Expression of Interest as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.

For the purpose of this fund, events are defined as one off or annual occurrences including live sporting and cultural events and festivals that are open to the public to attend, and major business events, incentives and conferences.