Government pledges £1.57 billion to protect UK arts sector


By Ellie Palmer

06 July 2020

The package includes a £1.15bn support pot for cultural organisations in England, consisting of £270m in loans and £880m in grants.

Britain's arts sector has finally been promised a much overdue rescue package from the Government in the form of £1.57 billion.

The industry has faced increasing cuts over the last few weeks as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, with Nuffield Southampton, Leicester Haymarket and Southport Theatre already closing their doors permanently.

Many more theatres, museums, galleries and music venues have been forced to cut much of their staff.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the news over the weekend. "I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can 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.

They make our country great and are the linchpin of our world-beating and fast-growing creative industries."

The £1.57 billion rescue package includes: 

  • A £1.15bn support pot for cultural organisations in England, consisting of £270m in loans and £880m in grants.
  • £100m of targeted support for England’s national cultural institutions and English Heritage.
  • £120m of capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England paused because of the pandemic.
  • Extra money for devolved administrations, with £97m for Scotland, £59m for Wales and £33m for Northern Ireland.

 

There is a fear that this package has come too late for some. The Government had suggested a reluctance in becoming too heavily involved. So, for many, the news is a huge relief.

Julia Fawcett, CEO of The Lowry, comments, "This is welcome news, but we are fast running out of time. This lifeline will come too late for some organisations who have already been forced to close their doors for good or made valued employees redundant.

While we await precise details of the funding mechanisms, I would remind government that the priority now must be to get these much-needed funds to the organisations most at risk – and fast.”

 

Main image: Wigmore Hall / ©Kaupo Kikkas