UPDATED 21 MAY 2020
Trade association AudioUK is taking a range of actions it is taking to ensure the independent audio production sector negotiates the coronavirus crisis successfully, while providing new content to help the wider public.
AudioUK has been calling on leading audio commissioners to continue working with the indie sector to find joint solutions to the financial problems being caused by the coronavirus crisis. AudioUK has asked that commissioners work flexibly with existing productions, and continue to seek new ideas and ensure payment processes continue without delay. We have already had a positive response from Audible and are continuing to talk to others.
In addition, AudioUK worked with the Audio Content Fund to propose a special round of coronavirus-related audio content, with an initial £200,000 of funding available and a quick two-week turnaround from submission to decision. This led to a variety of exciting new projects including a range of live audio events over Easter weekend. The funding available then increased to £400,000, leading to a new range of commisioning
AudioUK has also worked with the Radio Academy and others to set up the Audio & Radio Emergency Fund, which we hope will really help audio production professionals needing support at this time. The fund will grant money for activities such as buying new equipment or software for working from home.
And the Audiotrain programme is maintaining its activity by providing webinars, available free or with a voluntary donation. These have been very well-subscribed so far, with one session on remote high quality recording attracting around 300 people. You can find out more here.
Audiotrain also arranged a special members-only webinar discussing the government’s COVID-19 measures, relating to different types of company owner and employee. AudioUK members can find a link to the video and the presentation slides by logging into the members area on this website.
At Government level, we have been briefng DCMS on the impact on our sector of the COVID-19 outbreak, and been keeping members informed of the Government’s latest COVID-19 information for employers and businesses, which can be found at its Business Support Hub.
To address the difficulty in some small businesses accessing loans to get them through the immediate crisis, the Government introduced the Bounce Back Loans scheme on 27 April .
To help inform our briefing and further activity we surveyed audio production companies to find out more about the exact issues they are facing. Our thanks to all those who responded, we are now using the results to inform decison makers of the impact on our sector. You can see the results of our survey here.
The Government is now looking to encourage content production to restart in areas where it has been cancelled or posponed. AudioUK is part of a Working Group which is looking at ways to produce helpful guidance across DCMS industry sectors. AudioUK has also assembled the current Government advice into a note which you can find here.
The Creative Industries Federation, of which AudioUK is a member, has also posted a range of guidance.
AudioUK also signed a letter to the Chancellor to help freelancers and limited company directors during the coronavirus situation, and we encouraged DCMS to support the proposal during our COVID-19 briefing to the department. As a result of this co-ordinated sectoral action, the Chancellor announced on 26 March a new Self-Employment Income Protection Scheme. AudioUK will continue to look at any further ways that busnesses and the self-employed can be helped at this time, including those who have set up limited companies.
To keep up with the latest news on AudioUK, follow us on Twitter @weareaudiouk.
Kellie While, Chair of AudioUK, said:
“As a sector we’re doing our best to maintain business as usual but some productions are being postponed or cancelled, particularly those involving travel, live events or a studio audience.”
“It’s important at this time that those commissioning audio don’t take delay new commissions, and that they honour their existing contracts and payments. With more spare time, we believe people will be turning to audio as a diversion and so a steady stream of compelling new content is as important as ever.”
“We’re very pleased that the Government agreed to AudioUK and the Audio Content Fund’s suggestion that a special round be commissioned for coronavirus-related programming and we look forward to seeing some very exciting ideas emerge.”
“We are also an industry that uses a lot of dedicated, professional freelancers and we want to make sure this vital creative workforce is looked after at this time.”