Government warned Scottish culture is facing a 'lost future' unless restrictions are lifted in line with England

Scotland's cultural and creative industries are facing "a lost future" if the Scottish Government keeps social distancing restrictions in place when they are lifted south of the border next month, campaigners have warned.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 10:44 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 11:59 am

Up to 39,000 jobs are said to be at risk within weeks if the country keeps "draconian" curbs on events and entertainment venues when they are able to operate in England.

The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) wants the Scottish Government to confirm an “end date” for the lifting of restrictions, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed plans to end limits on social contact in England on June 21 were on track.

There are warnings that visitors to Scotland over the summer will not return if they have a "restricted experience" due to the cancellation and postponement of live events.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Night-Time Industries Association also claims businesses have racked up an average debt of £150,000 over the past year.

According to the campaign group, 85 per cent of businesses say they will not survive if distancing restrictions are kept in place for most of this year.

Scottish festival and venue operators say they have been left behind their counterparts in England who have able to promote shows and sell tickets for events with much more confidence.

A statement from the NTIA in response to the UK Government’s latest road map announcement said: “Despite unrelenting good news about vaccine performance being dramatically better than expected, the Scottish Government’s ongoing failure to engage in meaningful consultation with the sector and provide a workable road map out of the pandemic is now resulting in tens of thousands of lost jobs, lost livelihoods and a lost future for the creative and cultural industries in Scotland.

“Once again, Scotland’s tourism, hospitality and night-time economy is being left behind, and our people and small businesses disadvantaged, as we continue to suffer through what is in reality ‘a reopening in name only’.

“Many domestic visitors are already deciding not to travel north of the border, with the current restrictions being disproportionately harsh compared to elsewhere in the UK and substantial uncertainty as to what will be allowed later in the summer.

"And those that do are unlikely to return in a hurry given the crippling effect of such restrictions to both the ability of our food and drink sector to accommodate guests and the restricted experience guests can then be offered.

"Our sector has repeatedly pointed out the huge shortfall between the limited support provided, and the enormous costs being incurred every day by businesses.

The Barrowland Ballroom is one of Glasgow's best-known music venues.
The Barrowland Ballroom is one of Glasgow's best-known music venues.

"We urge the First Minister to urgently convene a crisis summit with us to find to find workable solutions that save thousands of small businesses and 39,000 jobs before it is too late.”

Mike Grieve, chair of NTIA Scotland, said: “As our neighbours south of the border prepare to unlock and remove all restrictions within the coming weeks, in Scotland we remain stuck in perpetual limbo with still no indicative date for reopening or even an outline of the conditions which will allow nightlife to restart.

“We again ask the Scottish Government to work with us directly and urgently on establishing a constructive path towards the unrestricted reopening of the culturally important and economically valuable night time economy sector and to save the thousands of jobs currently at risk.”

A message from the Editor:

Leith Theatre has been closed to the public since last March.

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Neil McIntosh

Editor