A £1.57bn support package has been announced by the Government. The rescue package, a mixture of emergency grants and loans, comes at a time where many cultural organisations were facing the prospect of permanent closure as Covid-19 continues to keep their doors closed.
The announcement came on the eve of the Light It In Red campaign, which will see cultural organisations across the country light their buildings red to highlight the dramatic situation the sector faces.
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.
The package is made up of:
£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).
Awarding decisions will be made by figures like Arts Council England, Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.
Prime Minister 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.”
The move has also been welcomed by many industry leaders. The chief executives of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris and Lisa Burger, said they "feel very positive that this major investment will reach and sustain the vital talent and infrastructure".
Music Venue Trust chief executive Mark Davyd said it "warmly welcomes this unprecedented intervention into Britain's world class live music scene".
However, there are some who feel the announcement leaves many questions unanswered. Actors’ union Equity have said:
“At the moment it is unclear how the package meets Equity's four pillars of recovery for live performance and, in particular, it is unclear as to how the £880m in grants for the sector will support and maintain freelance and self-employed creative workers that arts organisations will depend on if we are to preserve the UK arts infrastructure.
“If this investment does not reach creative workers - the actors, dancers, stage management, singers, variety artists, directors, designers, choreographers and many other highly skilled workers in our talent base, who have campaigned so hard for this very rescue package, we jeopardise full recovery of the creative industries.
“Our question to Government is - how will this investment or further measures yet to be announced directly protect and preserve the broad talent base of freelancers, self-employed creatives and staff employed in arts organisations?”