08 July 2020
The UK government has announced a support package of £1.57bn for art venues and heritage sites that have been struggling due to the impact of Coronavirus.
This announcement arrives a few days after the Miss Live Theatre campaign covered London’s National Theatre on tape as sign-on support for the performing arts.
The UK government’s support package has been described as ‘the biggest ever investment in UK culture’ and will comprise of a combination of grants and repayable loans that the government states will be ‘issued on generous terms tailored for cultural institutions to ensure they are affordable.’
Additionally, the money being provided will support the restart of employment in construction projects at various heritage sites that had initially been halted due to the pandemic.
Funding will be available to organizations within the culture and heritage industries, including art galleries, theatres, music venues, independent cinemas, and museums.
Details concerning applications are expected to be shared within the coming weeks. However, anyone wishing to apply for aid will have to prove to the government that they contribute to wider economic growth in the UK.
While the majority of the package will be spent in England £189m will be divided between devolved administrations, with £97m going to Scotland, £59m to Wales and £33m to Northern Ireland.
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden has acknowledged the challenge currently facing the culture industry and said, “This massive investment shows our level of commitment.” The UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, described the industry as “the beating heart of this country,” adding, “This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations.”
While some in the industry have welcomed the announcement Shadow Culture Secretary, Jo Stevens, has described the effort on Twitter as “too little too late.”
Recently England has seen the reopening of pubs, hairdressers, theme parks, and cinemas, among others, despite concerns that customers will not adhere to social distancing rules. However, culture venues such as theatres remain closed.
The government is currently in the process of finalizing guidance for a phased reopening of the arts sector.
The Group Chief Executive of Ambassador Theatre Group recently shared that, ‘We now need to unite to restore audience confidence and work in close partnership with authorities to remount British theatre as soon as is appropriately possible.’