News: €1.57 billion investment for Britain’s arts sector

Source: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; HM Treasury, Press Release

Quick details

£1.57 billion investment to protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions

· Cultural and heritage organisations to be protected with £1.57 billion support package

· Future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues will be protected with emergency grants and loans

· Funding will also be provided to restart construction work at cultural and heritage sites paused as a result of the pandemic

In depth

Britain’s globally renowned arts, culture and heritage industries will receive a world-leading £1.57 billion rescue package to help weather the impact of coronavirus, the government announced today.

Thousands of organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans.

This new package will be available across the country and ensure the future of these multi billion-pound industries are secured.

£1.15 billion support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270 million of repayable finance and £880 million grants.

£100 million of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.

£120 million capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new funding will also mean an extra £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million).

Decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such as Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

Repayable finance will be issued on generous terms tailored for cultural institutions to ensure they are affordable. Further details will be set out when the scheme opens for applications in the coming weeks.

What about reopening?

The government is finalising guidance for a phased return of the performing arts sectors that will be published shortly. The government is working with the sectors to get it back up and running as soon as it is safe to do so and is being guided by medical experts.

Soundbites

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country.

This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.”

Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary said

“Our arts and culture are the soul of our nation. They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast growing creative industries.

I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations. Today we are announcing a huge support package of immediate funding to tackle the funding crisis they face. I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.”

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer said:

“Our world-renowned galleries, museums, heritage sites, music venues and independent cinemas are not only critical to keeping our economy thriving, employing more than 700,000 people, they’re the lifeblood of British culture.

That’s why we’re giving them the vital cash they need to safeguard their survival, helping to protect jobs and ensuring that they can continue to provide the sights and sounds that Britain is famous for.”

LouReviews says …

I welcome the news of this investment, which seems to go some way to safeguarding venues and staff across the sector and the country.

However, any investment which is largely based on grants and loans needs to be fairly delivered to account for the needs of different types of arts organisations, companies and freelancers.

Get this right, and a threatened act of cultural vandalism will be averted. But I look forward to hearing more detail in the coming weeks as plans are clarified and money is disseminated.

I’ve seen a fair bit of grumbling on social media about so called luvvie, elitist theatre being pointless. That’s a viewpoint that is out there, but it is wrong. Only 2% of actors in Equity have an income which doesn’t need supplementing. Don’t be fooled by seeing the same faces all the time on TV.

Now, about those FOH and backstage. Ushers, bar and merch staff, set builders, costume and make-up, lighting and sound, box office, catering … do you think these (many freelance) are wealthy “luvvies”?

The audiences. Yes, WE prices are high, but there are discount and group rates, schemes for lower-paid patrons, accessible initiatives. Then the regionals, fringe and pub venues which support community engagement, education, new writers and performers.

Never tried going to the theatre? Have you watched comedy, cabaret, drag, dance, been to a pop or classical concert, a panto, a reading, an interview? Seen street shows or something in the park? Now imagine that gone.

It’s not a rich industry. Reserves without weeks of planned income deplete quickly. Venues, companies, people in the business are in crisis, losing their jobs, living each day in uncertainty.

That is why this announcement is good news, and very welcome.

What do you think?

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