Getting creative industries back to business
Barclays has been backing the UK’s creative industries for over thirty years. Here, the bank’s industry specialists – who work with companies in television, film, theatre, music, gaming and publishing, among others – discuss the challenges facing the sector, how it’s adapting and what help is available during the pandemic and beyond.
For companies in the UK creative industries, the coronavirus crisis has been a time of challenges – but also new opportunities.
In an immensely varied sector, the impact has not been evenly spread, with video games and esports attracting a new and growing audience amongst the millions stuck at home – while theatre and music venues have had to cancel their events for the foreseeable future, for obvious reasons.
We have a network and the right connections to help people get back to business. We were in a really good position when this happened, so if we pick up with where we left off, we can continue to support the industry in many different ways
Barclays Relationship Director of Technology and Media
Gavin Smith, Relationship Director of Technology and Media, explains: “Venues are, alongside many other industries, struggling to get income in because of lockdown and social distancing laws – but we are having conversations with them and going down the CBILS route to help with working capital during this time.”
Meanwhile, some film and television companies have been able to stay resilient because most of their outlay on salaries is on pause along with their production schedules. “A lot of the businesses that I look after have been able to control their overheads very well, and have run their businesses over the last few years to prepare for any negative effects in the market,” explains Smith.
Sean Duffy, Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms, adds that digital streaming services – whose popularity has unsurprisingly soared during the crisis – have offered new avenues during lockdown. While cinematic releases are not currently possible, British production companies have been able to deploy their “backbook of content” on Netflix and Amazon.
Gaming companies, however, are growing in strength. David Gowans, Head of Creative Technologies for Games and esports, says that gaming products have experiences a surge in sales. “The fantastic thing about the games industry is that through lockdown, games have brought people together, allowing friends to connect virtually. It’s been absolutely fantastic to be part of that.”
Barclays is encouraging this growth by running virtual training and networking events and working with trade bodies like the Association UKIE, says Gowans. His team has also launched the games.barclays website, which features useful videos, an events calendar, and information for game makers.
Jon Paterson, Creative Technologies Games Vertical Lead, describes the changes in gaming as “a very positive cultural change”. “I think it’s a natural positive progression forward from the view of necessity, as new people access games they hadn’t played before or esports they hadn’t accessed before.”
Smith believes the same can be said for the media sector. “We have a network and the right connections to help people get back to business. We were in a really good position when this happened, so if we pick up with where we left off, we can continue to support the industry in many different ways.”
Barclays has been supporting the UK’s creative industries since 1986 – an unwavering commitment that continues during unprecedented times. Duffy says the agility of the sector – which encompasses television and film, theatre, music, video games and esports, publishing, and digital marketing – will work in its favour.
Whatever changes have to be made, you have to be confident that this sector will be faster to adapt because the people who populate it shape the change, rather than wait for it
Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms
“We are a leading bank to this sector and so it’s important to us that we lean in as much as we can. We are working with a wide range of companies to find ways of providing incremental finance either through the various government schemes or otherwise.
“The creative sector is always seeking different ways of delivering new products and services. Whatever changes have to be made, you have to be confident that this sector will be faster to adapt because the people who populate it shape the change, rather than wait for it.”