£400m to help more than 2,700 arts, culture, heritage organisations and independent cinemas survive

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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced details of over 2,700 organisations being offered nearly £400m in grants and loans to help the culture and heritage sector reopen and recover.

This brings the Government’s total investment across grants, capital and repayable finance from the Culture Recovery Fund so far to more than £1.2 billion across over 5,000 individual cultural and heritage organisations and sites.

The funding was reserved in the first round of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to allow the Government to respond to the changing public health picture. With more than 70% of funding going outside of London, it will help organisations across the country as they welcome back visitors and return to normal operating models in the months ahead.

Over £170 million in repayable finance has been offered to organisations including the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company. A further £81 million in new loans are being announced for 23 nationally and internationally significant organisations receiving support in excess of £1 million, including English Heritage Trust, The Lowry and Sage Gateshead.

The English Heritage Trust, which cares for 420 historic monuments, buildings, objects and places, will receive £23.4 million to cover Covid-related losses and support investment in essential maintenance. The Lowry Centre Trust, the Salford-based arts centre, will receive £7.3 million, which will help the organisation to continue its community outreach programming and ensure that the LS Lowry collection is appropriately cared for.

The North Music Trust, which operates the flagship music performance and artistic development Sage Gateshead, will receive £3 million to support operational costs ahead of reopening and help the organisation to continue its valuable work including integrating its digital and in-person offerings.

The first round of grants and repayable finance totalling more than £800 million were allocated to ensure the immediate survival of 3,800 cultural organisations and heritage sites across the country. This second tranche of funding builds on the lifeline grants already awarded to support museums, theatres, performance venues, historic sites and cinemas as they reopen to audiences and visitors throughout the spring and summer.

Glastonbury Festival will receive £900,000 to help the festival continue in 2021, with two smaller events this year, as well as to carry the festival through to 2022.

A further £6.5 million has been awarded by the British Film Institute to independent cinemas including £138,333 for the East Finchley’s Phoenix Cinema, Britain’s oldest cinema in continuous use where Dame Judi Dench is a patron, and £45,640 awarded for the Barn Cinema in Dartington, based in a 14th century barn. This brings the number of cinemas supported by the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas to 209.

Grants worth almost £60 million have been awarded to help theatres plan for reopening in every corner of the country from the West End’s Criterion Theatre to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. The Criterion is receiving £164,501, taking its total support from the Culture Recovery Fund to £493,504.

Nimax Theatres, which operates six sites in the West End including the Palace Theatre, the Lyric and the Apollo Theatre, will receive £898,784 from the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding will support the theatres’ preparations to re-open to audiences, such as deep cleaning, Covid-testing equipment and training for staff.

Earlier this week, the Culture Secretary visited the Wolverhampton Grand which has been awarded £568,357 to restart socially distanced events when it is safe to do so.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced. Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”

Industry reaction

Dame Judi Dench, Oscar® award-winning actor (Shakespeare in Love, Philomena, Mrs Brown, Skyfall), a patron of the Phoenix East Finchley and the Theatre by the Lake which hosts the Keswick Film Festival and a BFI Fellow said: Local cinemas are a vital part of our cultural lives, enthralling us with films about lives that we recognise as well as offering us stories about other cultures from around the world. They are places where people come together for a shared experience and have inspired many to make their careers on screen. We need to make sure that generations today and in the future have the same opportunities to enjoy and take part in the communal big screen experience.”

Stephen Fry, Chair, Criterion Theatre Trust, said: “The Criterion Theatre Trust is just delighted to have received CRF second round grant funding in support of our plans to re-open in May 2021. Offering live theatre to a socially distanced audience presents a financial challenge, but the support extended through the Culture Recovery Fund is a boost that allows us to re-open in a Covid-safe way. The Trust will be able to continue its work and, when that glorious and happy time comes, to welcome audiences back to our beautiful theatre, to enjoy once again the irreplaceable and unforgettable experience of live theatre.”

Dame Julie Walters, Patron of The Pied Piper Theatre Company, said: “As Patron of The Pied Piper Theatre Company, I’m delighted to hear that the company are being supported by the Arts Council’s Culture Recovery Fund. It’s tremendous that the value of their plays for audiences of young children are recognised.”

Hugh Bonneville, supporter of Chichester Festival Theatre, said: “Underlying the UK’s international Film & TV success is the best of British Theatre. So I am particularly delighted that Chichester Festival Theatre, my local theatre, is being supported so generously by the Culture Recovery Fund. The grant will enable it to reopen its doors with confidence, renew the relationship with its audience and take its place once again at the heart of its vibrant community.”

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