Arts organisations across England to receive £257m survival fund

Over 1,300 theatres, museums, orchestras and music venues to receive lifeline for next six months

More than 1,300 arts organisations across England, including Liverpool’s Cavern club, the Young Vic and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, are to receive a share of £257m government money to help them survive the next six months.

Theatres, museums, orchestras and music venues were on Monday finally being told what they will receive from the government’s £1.57bn cultural recovery fund.

The £257m lifeline is for organisations which applied for less than £1m. It will, ministers said, allow performances to restart and enable venues to plan for reopening.

For example the Finborough theatre in London will receive £59,574 to help “maintain in-house skills to be able to reopen successfully in the future.” It is a tiny venue, a room above a pub in Earl’s Court, but has always punched way above its weight with alumni who include Rachel Weisz, Kathy Burke and Rory Bremner.

It helped launch the career of playwright James Graham who, over the summer, campaigned passionately on the need for a culture rescue package.

Graham, who wrote This House, Quiz and Brexit: the Uncivil War said: “It’s such a relief to see these significant funds now reaching organisations who want to begin making work for their communities to enjoy.

“It’s also important that these theatres are spread nationwide, are big and small, and include venues like the Finborough which is where I cut my teeth and I wouldn’t be a playwright or screenwriter without it.”

Other recipients include:

The Hallé Orchestra in Manchester which receives £740,000 to help it live stream fortnightly concerts from the Bridgewater Hall.

• The Cavern club, one of Liverpool’s top tourist attractions forever linked to the Beatles, gets £525,000 to fund the recording of local musicians’ live performances which will then be streamed online.

• The Young Vic in London gets £961,455 to help it partially reopen between October and March, as well as remotely operate its directors programme and outreach work.

• Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, Cumbria, receives £878,492 to help cover losses made as a result of coronavirus.

• Birmingham Royal Ballet, led by Carlos Acosta, gets £500,000 to help offset losses from cancelled performances and touring.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield, has been awarded £804,013 to help it adapt its buildings to new regulations and continue to reopen safely.

• The Hackney Empire in east London receives £585,064 to help support “a new model of responsive programming” and address increased costs because of the pandemic.

• Bristol Old Vic, the oldest continuous working theatre in the English language where Olivia Colman and Daniel Day-Lewis began their careers, gets £610,466 to help transform its business model and support its creative workforce.

Other recipients include the Wigmore Hall in London, which gets £1m to help sustain its future; the London Symphony Orchestra, with £846,000 to help a phased return to full-scale performance; and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, with £748,000 to allow it to provide a short, physically distanced programme, all of which will be recorded and later streamed.

The money is from the Treasury but distributed by Arts Council England. Sir Nicholas Serota, the latter’s chair, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages.

“This is a difficult time for us all, but this first round of funding from the culture recovery fund will help sustain hundreds of cultural spaces and organisations that are loved and admired by local communities and international audiences.”

The money is directly aimed at organisations rather than the vast army of freelancers who keep arts organisations going. Last week hundreds of freelance musicians played outside parliament to highlight the plight of self-employed artists. The government argues that reopening venues creates work for those freelancers.

The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.”

The arts announcement follows £103m of rescue money to heritage organisations, announced last Friday.

Arts organisations who applied for between £1m and £3m are still anxiously waiting to hear about their applications. Details of a £270m fund of loans, which will be given to larger arts organisations, has also yet to be announced.

• The headline on this article was amended on 12 October 2020 to correct the figure to £257m, as stated in the article, not £275m.


Mark Brown Arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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