From the beginning of lockdown, it was apparent that COVID-19 would have a significant impact on the culture, leisure, tourism and sport sectors. To gain a better understanding of this impact, the Local Government Association (LGA) undertook a series of interviews with senior council officers for culture and leisure between April and June 2020.
When the UK went into lockdown on 23 March 2020, the culture and leisure sector, including
museums, galleries, libraries, theatres, leisure centres were all required to close their doors
to the public. Besides the effect on the community, this created an immediate loss of income
with implications for the long-term financial sustainability of the sector.
Councils are one of the biggest funders of culture and leisure, spending around £2.2 billion a
year on these services. Apart from libraries, they are in the main part discretionary services
and cover museums, galleries, arts centres, theatres, music venues, leisure centres and
swimming pools, parks and heritage sites. They are delivered across a wider range of
delivery models, including in-house delivery, delivery via a contract with a leisure trust, a
spun-out service or commercial operator, community delivered services and grant funding
for local culture and leisure organisations.
The findings of this research remain relevant in explaining the context in the sector, highlighting some of the specific challenges faced during this time, identifying those that remain unresolved and articulating some of the challenges going forward. This report outlines these findings.
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