Once again, it is during strange times that we lead up to the winter holiday. Over the last year audio has, once again, proved its resilience in the face of incredibly challenging circumstances. The year has presented difficulties for some production companies but been fruitful for others. We want to say thank you to all of our members for being part of AudioUK, and helping us to continue our work to support and expand the audio production sector.
2021 started with lockdowns across the UK, many podcasts and radio shows were recorded remotely, with studio attends for live radio shows or audiobook recordings being carefully planned so that safety was at the forefront. At AudioUK, we provided guidance on how to work safely with the COVID-19 Production Guidelines, which we have recently updated to reflect the current circumstances.
We were really pleased this year to launch our new legal and business affairs service with Mint & Co, which provides really tangible benefits to full members: 26 free contract templates, free 40-minute consultations, and discounted further consultations. We look forward to continuing this partnership into 2022.
We also partnered with the Podcasting, Seriously Awards Fund, to help it launch to the UK. The Fund supports independent BIPOC and LGBTQ+ creators to submit entries to journalism and media awards, and reimburses the entry fee. We continue to spread the word about it, so if you would like to either donate to the fund, or to apply, you can find out more by following the link above.
Elsewhere we stepped up our work to secure an Audio Production Tax Relief, publishing a detailed report and securing a recommendation in the Government-sponsored Digital Radio and Audio Review. We will continue to liaise with the Government on this through next year, as now is a good time to attract the increasing international investment in podcasting and other digital formats.
The Audio Content Fund – a Fund brought about by AudioUK with Radiocentre, and which uses money from the UK Government to fund original content, made by independent production companies for commercial and community radio – continued to award money to a wide range of recipients. At the start of 2021, it was awarded an additional £300k from the Government to finance programmes on mental health and loneliness during the pandemic. The Fund reaches the end of its three year pilot phase in 2022, and we have been campaigning to put the case for the continuation of the Fund to the Government.
The Audio Production Awards were a great success this year, and we were very lucky to be able to do them in person, at the BFI in London. We had a record number of entries and a fantastic panel of judges. Thank you to everyone who entered and took part. Any money that we make from the awards is used to invest back into AudioUK, Audiotrain and the services that we offer to members.
Our work with the BBC continued apace, as we negotiate new terms of trade for independent production companies; take your comments to them on pricing, development and feedback; and keep up the pressure to recognise and support the independent sector, resulting in actions such as the Indie Development Fund.
Audiotrain continued to have a great programme of webinars and courses online, many of which are available to watch. Topics such as Building Your Audio Documentary, Reaper Training, Presenting Skills, Selling Ideas, and our members-only Meet The Commissioners Sessions. We look forward to doing more of these in 2022. Do let us know if you have any specific areas of interest.
We recognise that this time of year can be really difficult, often with heavy workloads and other external pressures, and we have some resources to support mental health. You can also watch our Audiotrain webinar Looking After Your Mental Health.
I’d like to thank the AudioUK Board, who give their time for free to support and further the work of AudioUK. I’d also like to thank the rest of the AudioUK team, Kim Mason, Tim Wilson and Caroline Elliot, who all work far more than they are supposed to on developing and maintaining the work of AudioUK. Finally, I’d like to thank you all as our members, without you we would not be able to do any of the work that we do to shine a spotlight on and develop the remarkable audio industry in the UK. If you are reading this and are not currently a member of AudioUK, you can join us here.
Membership is currently at record levels, which really shows what an exciting time we are in for audio in the UK, as illustrated by the recent Infinite Dial UK survey. That survey showed we are matching the other major territories in podcasting and we are looking forward to that area continuing to grow next year.
We look forward to seeing you more next year, for example at May’s Podcast Show, of which we are a partner, and then in November at the Audio Production Awards, or at one of our Audiotrain webinars.
Chloe Straw – Managing Director, AudioUK