Culture, tourism & sport bulletin: March 2021

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Culture, tourism & sport bulletin

March 2021

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Dear colleagues,

We have now completed the first step of the Government’s roadmap for reopening, with the restart of organised outdoor sport on 29 March, and the we are in conversation with Government, arms-length bodies and other key partners about guidance and plans as we look forward to Step 2 on 12 April. Please let us know if you are experiencing any issues that need to be raised at a national level.

Our conversations are also increasingly turning towards recovery and on 17 March the Board met with Nigel Huddleston MP, Minister for Sport and the Visitor Economy, to discuss the critical role of local government in delivering these services, and supporting the wider sectors to return to growth. The Board also welcomed Neil Mendoza, Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal, to its meeting on 24 March for a similar conversation about supporting cultural services and the creative industries; and on 26 March I met with Nick de Bois who is chairing the independent review of destination management organisations.

The key theme from each conversation was the need for robust data and insight into the work of councils, so please do keep your local MPs, Ministers and other national figures aware of your work and what you need to do it effectively, to support the work we are doing on this.

Recovery was also the theme for this year's annual Culture, Tourism and Sport Conference, which saw a record 704 delegates tune in to watch the sessions over three days, including this year’s Hearts for the Arts Awards. Congratulations to all of the winners!

You can find the presentations from each event further down in the bulletin.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson CBE
Chair, LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport Board

Cllr Vernon Jackson

The LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport Team

Visit our Culture, Tourism and Sport webpages and follow us on Twitter @LGAculturesport 

Share good practice or raise an issue for the LGA to look at via e-mail

Lockdown roadmap - key dates for England

The Government's roadmap for England sets out key dates for reopening and recovery.

Step 1: 29 March

Social contact

Outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either six people or two households will also be allowed.

Business and activities

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports. Sport England has collated all the guidance from Government and National Governing Bodies on what can be done and the safeguards that must be taken.


The 'stay at home' rule ended on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place. Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons.

Step 2: 12 April

Business and activities

Non-essential retail can re-open including libraries, community centres and gyms. Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets can also reopen.

Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors at Step 2 and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks with table service applying.  


The number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events will rise to 15.

Budget 2021

Culture, leisure and sport announcements

  • Culture Recovery Fund: £300 million to extend the fund to continue to support key national and local cultural organisations in England (Page 50, Para 2.56)
  • Sport Recovery Package: £300 million for continued support to major spectator sports in England. (Page 50, paragraph 2.59)
  • Queen's Platinum Jubilee Celebration in 2022: £28 million to support delivery of the Jubilee (Page 69, Para 3.22)
  • 2030 FIFA Men's World Cup: £2.8 million to enable a UK & Ireland bid as well as an investment of £25 million in UK grassroots community sports facilities (Page 69, Para 3.22)
  • UEFA Women's Euro football competition: £1.2 million to mitigate the financial effects of COVID-19 and deliver a successful tournament in 2022 (Page 50, paragraph 2.60)

Our view

  • The additional funding will provide a much needed lifeline for the arts, culture and sport sectors, supporting many organisations to prepare for the easing of restrictions.
  • National sports events like the World Cup are vital in promoting community sport and inspiring people to take up physical activity. Councils are working hard to promote physical activity in the aftermath of COVID-19 and this bid will support their efforts.
  • Leisure centres have been hard hit by the pandemic. Further investment through the National Leisure Recovery Fund is needed to ensure key assets like swimming pools can remain open. Sport England research pre-pandemic highlighted ageing infrastructure in need of urgent replacement which could cost approximately £1.5 billion.
  • The arts and culture sector has an important role to play in our road to national economic recovery. This package acknowledges the value of this sector and its contribution to society, our economy, and our standing in the world.

Budget 2021 - on-the-day briefing


LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport conference

Our annual Culture, Tourism and Sport conference took place on the 1 - 3 March, opening with a message from the Minister for Culture and Digital Caroline Dinenage MP and closing with a celebration of the Hearts for the Arts Awards. The record-breaking conference attracted over 700 attendees over three days and focused on how culture, tourism and sport can contribute to our national recovery from COVID-19. To see the presentations and speeches from the event, please visit our event webpages:

Culture conference

Tourism and visitor economy conference 

Sport and physical activity conference

Hearts for the Arts Awards 2021

Pioneering Green Space Vision by Liverpool City Council

Recognising that green spaces have become more important than ever as places to get outdoors during lockdown, escape to nature and stay socially connected Liverpool City Council working with green space charity Fields in Trust has become the first local authority in the UK to commit via their Green Space Vision to:

  • Protect all their parks and green spaces forever
  • Ensure they can never be sold off or built on
  • Ensure that every citizen lives within a ten-minute walk of a legally protected green space

Find out more: Fields in Trust - Liverpool

Sport England - Moving Communities Platform launch

The Moving Communities platform is aimed at supporting local authorities and service delivery partners to work collaboratively around a consistent data set and reporting framework. The data will show the local social impact of leisure provision, improvements in educational attainment and reductions in crime. Key highlights include:

  • Providing a local social value impact of leisure visits
  • Live performance management via a shared platform
  • Bespoke dashboard views: performance indicators, filtering; capturing local trends
  • Designed around existing software to allow for automatic importing of data.

Find out more: Moving Communities Platform

Theatre survey marking a year of COVID-19 shutdown

On 16 March 2020, theatres across the country closed their doors due to the pandemic. Survey results collated by Society of London and Theatre UK paint a picture of an industry that has struggled to survive the past 12 months facing huge financial strain:

  • 95 per cent of theatre organisations worse off due to COVID-19. 165 organisations responding estimated loss of £200 million
  • one in four freelancers out of business forced to take alternative jobs or leave the sector
  • third of respondents have plans to create an outdoor performance space - despite 61 per cent operating at a loss.

Weight management programmes

Earlier this month, the Government announced it would provide £100 million to support people living with obesity to lose weight and maintain healthier lifestyles in 2021/22. Health Minister Jo Churchill has confirmed that £34.9 million of this funding has now been dedicated to enhancing local authority weight management services for adults, children and families. The money will be distributed among councils in England to commission services, based on population size, obesity prevalence and deprivation.

Cycling and walking strategy

In 2017, the Government published its first Cycling and walking investment strategy (CWIS 1), which covered the period between 2016 and 2021. Because of the one-year Spending Review, a single-year settlement for cycling and walking reflecting the ambitions set out in the Government's Gear change: a bold vision for cycling and walking white paper has been set for 2021/22. Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has this week signalled the Government's intention to publish a second four-year strategy after the multi-year Spending Review later this year to push forward ambitions to make cycling and walking a natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of longer journeys by 2040.


Parkrun is aiming for a staggered approach to the restart, focusing on their junior Parkrun events from 29 March which involve fewer, more local participants and help address the significant reduction in activity levels among children during the pandemic. As landowners, councils may already have been receiving requests for permission to restart. Parkrun are publishing a weekly update on their approach and the steps that organisers need to take to operate Parkrun in a safe manner; they are happy to hear directly from councils with questions about the approach. Please contact

Events Research Programme - phased return of audiences pilot

The terms of reference for the Events Research Programme have been published. This is one of the four reviews being undertaken to support the opening of large-scale events. A range of pilot events in spring/summer will build evidence on the risks associated with COVID-19. Evidence from these pilots will be used to inform the government's decision and policy making around Step 4 of the roadmap to bring about the phased return of fuller audiences to events across England.

COVID-19 news and support

Letter to local authorities on helping hospitality businesses

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have written to local authorities reminding them of the relaxation of planning rules to support hospitality businesses to reopen safely. Key measures are:

  • Allowing pubs, restaurants and cafes to obtain temporary pavement licences to place outdoor tables and seating on footpaths.
  • Automatic right for restaurants, pubs, and cafes to serve takeaway food.
  • Temporary rights that allows local authorities to use land to hold a market without having to apply for planning permission.

Supporting reopening of outdoor hospitality letter

Additional Restrictions Grant

Given their important role in sustaining the financial models of the wider cultural and visitor economy Government has changed guidance to specifically encourage councils to provide grants to businesses that have been falling through the cracks in the Additional Restrictions Grant. Please speak to your Business Rates Teams as Government guidance has changed to encourage councils to issue grants to: 

  • Group travel and tour operators (includes coach operators), other tourism businesses (including B&Bs and event industry suppliers)
  • Wholesalers, English language schools, breweries
  • Freelance and mobile businesses (including caterers, events, hair, beauty and wedding related businesses)
  • Wraparound care providers, and other businesses that may have not received grant funding.

Sharing ideas

Destination management organisations consultation

A consultation on the future of destination management organisations has been launched, looking at how they are structured, funded, and the role they can play in boosting the visitor economy in a post-pandemic world. We welcome this review, which we had been calling for even before COVID-19 appeared.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson met with Nick de Bois, Chair of the Review, on Friday 26 March to outline our perspective. The review is particularly keen to hear from councils about their levels of investment in organisations, and the value they place on local tourism, so please do respond.

The consultation will close on Wednesday 28 April and submissions can be made through the online survey.

Local economic recovery planning

We have partnered with Social Finance, to produce guidance to support councils in local economic recovery planning. The Playbook for Action draws out some of the practical steps for councils to consider when developing a local economic recovery plan and shares good practice from a range of projects and plans that councils have already developed.

Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole beach app expansion

Last year, in response to the overcrowding of its beaches, Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council created a Beach Check App to enable users to check on which of its beaches was the least congested. It worked on a traffic light system to warn visitors to avoid crowded areas and offered information on lifeguard status, toilets that were open and byelaws for cycling and walking dogs on the prom.

This initiative is now to be rolled out nationally, thanks to the Government’s Local Digital Fund. It’s free and you can be part of it. Please contact before 7 April if you would like to be involved in first phase of the national roll-out.

Holiday Activities with Food

In November 2020, Government announced the expansion of Holiday Activities with Food (HAF) programme for the financial year 2021/22 to all 151 top tier authorities in England to deliver the provision of holiday activities with a healthy meal for children and young people eligible for Free School Meals. The HAF Alliance has been established to support and share best practice across programme and the HAF 2021 conference contains a wealth of information for councils looking to support families over the summer.

Vision Redbridge case study: Culture and Leisure - Fit, Fed and Read

This case study is part of the achieving efficiencies series of our online Culture Hub. This programme aims to tackle holiday hunger, isolation and inactivity during the school holidays. Children aged 5 - 11 who are eligible for free school meals receive a food hamper / voucher and a list of recipes put together by a nutritionist.

They take part in daily cooking sessions and, learn how to make healthy meals. A daily routine of physical activities including dance and games encourage them to have fun, get fit with their parents and help build stamina and resilience.

Read more: Culture and Leisure - Fit, fed and read


Changing Places Fund

A £30 million fund to improve and increase changing facilities across England for those who cannot use standard accessible facilities will be rolled out via local authorities following an announcement in the Budget.

District and unitary authorities will be invited to complete a short expression of interest to receive a proportion of this funding to boost the number of Changing Place toilets in existing buildings across leisure, sports, cinema, arts and tourism venues.

Find and more: Changing Places Fund

Return to Play Fund - Sport England

£16.5 million fund open until 30 June to support groups, clubs and organisations who’ve been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions or impacted by flooding. Made up of:

  • £10 million - Small Grants: £300,000 - £10,000
  • £5 million - Community Asset Fund. Grants: £10,001- £50,000 to adapt spaces/facilities
  • £1.5 million - Active Together. Crowdfunding initiative enabling the set-up of own campaigns if need for priority groups are not met. Sports England will match crowdfunds of up to £10,000.

More details: Return to Play Fund and Flood Damaged Facilities.

Community Leisure Recovery Fund - Sport England

A new fund for community-run leisure facilities in England with £5 million of National Lottery investment. Aimed at supporting those who provide a general leisure offer but who do not have a contract or funding with their local council to provide this. It is not designed to support sports clubs or members-only facilities.

Successful applicants also eligible to receive bespoke support in recovery planning, and training on how to complete COVID-19 risk assessments.

  • 6 April 2021 - The fund opens to applications
  • 29 April 2021 - The fund closes to applications

Find out more and apply: Community Leisure Recovery Fund

Levelling Up Fund

The prospectus and priority places for the Levelling Up Fund have now been announced, and include specific objectives around cultural and heritage infrastructure. Together with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport we are keen to hear from councils about any support they may need to help develop these elements of their bids. Please contact with your thoughts.

New funding for councils to 'spruce up' coastal areas and high streets

The Government has announced a new 'Welcome Back Fund' totalling £56 million for local councils to support them with the reopening of high streets and to help coastal communities over the busy summer months. Funding will be distributed to councils to pay for measures such as improving green spaces, providing more outdoor seating areas, markets and food pop-ups.

Our response: LGA responds to Welcome Back Fund for town centres

Archives Fund

The National Archives announced the 25 successful applicants who have received up to £50,000 from the COVID-19 Archives Fund. The fund which was allocated £500,000 from HM Treasury was open to collecting institutions and archival custodians helping them safeguard their vital records or re-home vulnerable collections.


Parliamentary briefings

Parliament has been debating support for culture, tourism and sport industries as we move along the roadmap. Our recent briefings for MPs and peers include:

APPG for Hospitality and Tourism Inquiry

The APPG is conducting an inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on town and city centres, and what measures are needed to support hospitality and tourism businesses in these areas to recover. The consultation covers planning, licensing and environmental health legislations, among other things. The consultation closes on 7 April 2021.

Find out more: APPG for Hospitality and Tourism Inquiry

Findings of the APPG on Loneliness Inquiry

The APPG Loneliness Inquiry findings talk positively about providing councils with sustainable funding for parks and libraries recognising the critical role they play in tackling loneliness as both provider and commissioner of local community services. Many councils are doing great work in tackling loneliness but, as the report makes clear, councils need funding to address the impact of COVID-19 and beyond. Specifically, the inquiry mentions:

'There are too many barriers preventing people from connecting - such as a lack of safe, welcoming and accessible green spaces, parks and gardens, public toilets, playing areas, local bus services, and ramps for people with disabilities'.

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