Accessing the emergency Coronavirus support package for the Art and Heritage Sector

A £1.57bn support package was announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on Sunday 5th July in support of the Arts and Heritage sector, which has been deeply affected by the economic impact of lockdown in response to COVID-19.

The support package will provide music venues, independent cinemas, museums, galleries, theatres and heritage sites with emergency grants and loans.

The package will be split between the England and the devolved administrations and will consist of both grant support and loans on “very favourable terms”.  The money marks one of the biggest one-off investments in the UK culture sector and is designed to support the existing government measures that have been introduced by the Treasury since March.

“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,” Boris Johnson said. “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.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden added: “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.”

In England, the pot of new support is made up of £880m in grant funding and £270m in loans.  For the devolved administrations, support is allocated as follows:

  • Scotland: £97m
  • Wales: £59m
  • Northern Ireland: £33m

Arts Council England, the Royal Opera House, the Music Venue Trust, the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre were among those to welcome the funding.

Arts Council chairman Sir Nicholas Serota told BBC News the funding was "a very good result".

He said: "Now it's up to the arts organisations and the Arts Council to make best use of this money and bring the arts back into communities across the county. This announcement gives us the tools to help build a recovery."

Music Venue Trust chief executive Mark Davyd said it "warmly welcomes this unprecedented intervention into Britain's world class live music scene".

He added: "This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues and gives us the time we need to create a plan to safely reopen live music."

Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said it "hugely welcomed" the funding.

As ever, the devil is in the detail and further information is expected this week outlining those organisations and venues that are eligible for support.  It is likely that the most prominent and accessible sites will be at the top of the Government’s list but with so much pressure being applied to support grassroots venues, both across arts, culture, music and heritage, we suspect that there will be opportunities for smaller or more niche venues to take advantage of the support package.

At this stage, we recommend venues who are looking to take advantage of the support measures to build a strong case as to how they should be a recipient of grant funding.  To that end, now is the time to focus on the vital statistics and be ready to formulate a strong case based on public engagement, employment protection, local economy support, cultural significance and heritage risks associated with your business.

Update:  Details regarding applications for grant funding can be found on the Arts Council Website here




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