Studiomakers Covid-19 Response: Supporting Affordable Artist Studios

In early April 2020 the Mayor of London’s Office requested assistance from Studiomakers, acknowledging that we are a leading organisation with the knowledge and experience necessary to support London’s cultural infrastructure during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately highlighted the extreme fragility of our cultural and creative infrastructure in London. Artist studios, already struggling under rapidly increasing property values and short-term agreements, are under threat of total collapse as income has dried up because 97% of their artists have reported a sudden loss of income.

We paused the launch of Phase 2 of the Studiomakers initiative that will broker truly affordable long-term lease agreements for artists studio providers, and rapidly reoriented the initiative to help providers avoid short-term cash flow collapse by advising the best route to renegotiating their rental costs.

Thank you for discussing your needs with us and sharing how fast-moving the situation is. It is increasingly apparent that many of you are having difficulty securing necessary rental discounts whilst others are being stonewalled by unresponsive landlords. In response Studiomakers has developed new resources, detailed below, as part of our efforts to support you through the current Covid-19 crisis.


Government Protects Renters and other Market Moves

Some landlords may have been slow to react to a request to negotiate rents, however as the full effect of the Covid-19 crisis becomes clear commercial leaseholders are having more success in making deals. To better inform your own request for rental discussions it may be useful for studio providers to get a full understanding of how lockdown is shifting the commercial property market.

Ban on evictions extended

Renters across England will receive greater protection after the government extended the suspension of new evictions until the end of September. The law will also not allow landlords to begin recovering rents unless they are owed at least 90 days of unpaid rent (the previous minimum was seven days). This further signals to all commercial tenants that central Government is looking to landlords to come to alternative arrangements wherever possible. Further details can be found HERE

Code of conduct for negotiating rent announced

Backed by property bodies including the British Property Federation the code outlines four key principles parties are advised to adhere to, helping to unlock conversations on rent and future payments, stop to unreasonable evictions, and provide further flexibility whilst ensuring best practice.

  • Transparency and collaboration: landlords and tenants should act as “economic partners, not opponents” and act quickly and in good faith.
  • A unified approach: parties should support each other in dealings with other stakeholders “including governments, utility companies, banks, financial institutions and others” to manage the consequences of Covid-19
  • Government support: parties should recognise that where a business, be it tenant or landlord, has received Covid-related subsidiaries, parties should recognise that the support has been provided to help that business meet its commitments
  • Acting reasonably and responsibly: parties should act reasonably and responsibly, recognising the impact Covid-19 has had on businesses, in order “to identify mutual solutions where they are most needed”.

Landlords agree to substantial rental discounts

Many commercial tenants such as Prezzo, Byron, Giraffe, Pret, Leon and PizzaExpress have already used their drop in turnover to bring landlords to the table. Even Burger King is in discussions with landlords about moving to turnover-based rent.

Commenting on the new code of practice and eviction ban extension, KPMG’s UK head of real estate Andy Pyle said the “ongoing and sometimes heated debate” between tenants and landlords over rent payments would likely continue, but that there was “a vital need for landlords and their customers or occupants to work collaboratively during this pandemic”.

The real estate investment trust Shaftesbury is in talks with around 800 tenants to agree changes to rents and charges. The company has said it expected to collect a maximum of 50% of rents for the second half of the year. Additionally 119 tenants at Brixton Market were given a three month rental holiday by owners Hondo Enterprises. 

Requests for rental negotiations on commercial leases are currently commonplace, so affordable artist studio providers should feel confident in asking to pay only what you can afford.


View our Live Discussions

3rd July 2020
How to Make Your Case for Rental Reduction

Click below to watch our latest live webinar with Aysha Taylor-Rivoire, Associate Director at CBRE. Aysha gave an extensive market overview and outlined how affordable artist studio providers can articulate and present the best possible case for rental negotiations with landlords. 

CBRE is the largest commercial real estate services company in the world and their extensive knowledge of the current market has been crucial to navigate rent reduction proposals.

Studio Providers who receive our newsletter can view a recording of our second live event by CLICKING HERE. The recording is password protected, please enter: studiomakers

5th June 2020
Landlord and Tenant Law
Click below view our live discussion with Mark Roberts, partner at CounterCulture LLP, who explained Landlord and Tenant Law for studio providers followed by a live Q&A session.

Studio Providers who receive our newsletter can view a recording of our second live event by CLICKING HERE. The recording is password protected, please enter: studiomakers

5th May 2020
Sharing solutions to Covid-19 Impact

A chance for studio providers to discuss problems and share solutions. We were joined by the GLA and the Creative Land Trust who had recently announced the Creative Workspace Resilience Fund.

Studio Providers who receive this newsletter can view a recording of our first live discussion by CLICKING HERE
The recording is password protected, please enter: studiomakers


Download our Letter Templates

In partnership with the law firm Dechert LLP, our new Letter Template suggests the most effective way to progress your negotiations.

Our first Letter Template 1 proposed a consistent sector-wide approach and asked landlords for rent negotiations.

Letter Template 2 provides stark clarity for landlords using firm language and evidence of hardship, while making clear that you have the backing of larger organisations that support your request for a rent negotiation. It is a response to your observation that some landlords need explanation as to why swift action is required now, and explicitly lays out the alternative facing landlords who refuse to engage.

These templates are drafts for customisation to your circumstances. You will need to edit all sections highlighted in red.


Download our Fact Sheets

Fact Sheets 1 to 5 explain key legal terminology.

Fact Sheet 6 provides affordable artist studio providers an overview of the Act 2020, explaining the suspension of rental payments, Force Majeure, Frustration, insurance and the alternative options available to you.


Are You In Need of Legal Assistance?

If you require tailored legal assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.  We will guide you through the on-boarding process with our pro-bono legal partners. 

Please share your situation and concerns: it is vital for us to understand and respond to your needs. If you have issues and require assistance that is not covered by these materials contact us for further guidance. The Greater London Authority has also further expanded its Culture At Risk team to deal with the crisis, you can contact them here.


Discretionary Business Rates Grant Funds

In response to lobbying efforts that identified businesses who manage multiple workspaces within one site (i.e: artist studio providers) often do not separately rate each workspace for Small Business Rates Relief, central Government are releasing new funds to local Councils to help “flexible workspaces” through this crisis with discretionary business rates grants.

You must regularly check local Council websites for more information about how your local authority will be distributing these funds. 


Support, Advice and Funding

The London Growth Hub is running a series of useful webinars.
VISIT their website for the full calendar of events.

The Culture At Risk team have compiled, and are regularly updating, a list of resources for the cultural and creative sector. VISIT their website for further advice, guidance and support schemes.

The Creative Industries Federation are currently offering 3 months free membership.

Signup to receive the latest guidance from Studiomakers: