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Financial spotlight for Arts and culture sector with £1.57 billion support package

The government announces huge one-off package of help, although questions are raised over help to performers and the phased return to full opening of venues.

RAH
  Complete darkness may be avoided by the Royal Albert Hall by the announcement

The Government has announced what it calls "the biggest one-off investment in UK culture"as it unveiled plans of a £1.57 billion support package for theatres, galleries, museums and cultural venues.

It will be made up of £880 million in grants and £270 million in repayable loans. There will be funding of £100 for national cultural institutions and the English Heritage Trust. A further £120 million is allocated to cultural infrastructure and heritage construction projects in England.

Scotland will receive £97 million, Wales £59 million and Northern Ireland £33 million.

Allocation

The allocation of the funding support would be made "alongside expert independent figures from the sector".

Further guidance on a 'phased return' of the performing arts in their venues is expected to be announced in the near future.

World leading

After the announcement was leaked by the Financial Times and others, the Culture Minister, Oliver Dowden tweeted; "Weeks in the making to make this world leading fund to help the arts weather the storm of Covid.

I said I wouldn't let the arts down. Culture and the arts matter, and this Govt back you."

The announcement has been broadly welcomed, although the Chancellor of Exchequer's own tweet in saying that it was introducing "a world-leading £1.57 billion rescue package to help cultural, arts and heritage institutions"was widely questioned.

France has reportedly supported its arts section to the tune of €7 billion, whilst others questioned why it had taken three months following high profile pressure from leading cultural personalities for it to have been undertaken.

Others have questioned whether the package is targeted at giving assistance to individuals and especially freelance performers, many of whom have been ineligible for financial help, whilst others have wondered if the money will seep through to all areas of the country — and not just the major London-centric institutions.

I said I wouldn't let the arts down. Culture and the arts matter, and this Govt back youCulture Minister, Oliver Dowden

Response

There are currently over 650 National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) including Brass Bands England and the National Youth Brass Bands of Great Britain.

Sir Simon Rattle stated; "We hope it will be distributed as fast as possible... as so many institutions and individual artists have been staring into the abyss,"whilst, Arts Council chairman Sir Nicholas Serota told BBC News the funding was "a very good result".

He added: "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."

Difficulties

In recent weeks there have also been well publicised reports of the financial difficulties of major London venues and organisations such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Opera House, whilst closures and redundancies have taken place around the country.

In response to the announcement Labour's shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said while she welcomed the "much-needed" package, it was "too little, too late" for many. She urged the government to act quickly to help organisations "currently teetering on the brink"

Julia Fawcett, chief executive of the Lowry in Salford, said: "The announcement of £1.57bn of emergency investment in the UK's culture sector 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."

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