Theatres, music venues and arts organisations across England have been thrown a lifeline as the government announced recipients of part of its £1.57 billion 'culture recovery fund'.
While the money was set aside in July, it has taken three months to decide who would receive a cut.
Venues of various sizes up and down the country will benefit from the money, which will help them survive as restrictions imposed in the wake of Covid-19 have left many on the brink of collapse.
Poet Laureate Simon Armitage said: “The arts are the nation’s soul – they make us a people, not just a population.
“They are also a huge industry, both in terms of revenue generated and the many thousands of employees in the sector. The amount needed to keep the arts alive is a measure of both their cultural and financial importance to this country.
“A much-needed measure, the recovery fund won’t return us to anything like normality, but it will provide a lifeline for many individuals, and for a number of significant arts institutions could be the difference between survival and nonexistence.”
Music Venue Trust, which campaigns on behalf of grassroots venues, hailed the announcement as “a huge step forward in the efforts to reopen every venue safely”.
Chief executive Mark Davyd said: “Since March, the trust has been working closely with colleagues at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England to ensure that the needs of grassroots music venues across England, and the potential threat this crisis presents to them, were fully understood.
“Their work in creating and delivering this fund has been extraordinary. We want to recognise the efforts of the government, particularly the Secretary of State and the Chancellor, to understand what was required by grassroots music venues, develop a solution, and make it happen.
“Saving our grassroots venue sector requires a massive jigsaw puzzle of efforts, from the smallest local fundraiser by a community desperate to keep its cherished local venue, to the enormous scope of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, one of the largest such funds in the world.
“Music Venue Trust, through the hard work, passion and dedication of our regional coordinators, has worked closely with our grassroots music venue community to ensure a clear and coordinated approach to this crisis. We are proud of the resilience, strength and solidarity shown by everyone involved.
“This intervention helps enormously, giving MVT, our sector and our communities an achievable opportunity to complete the English section of the jigsaw.
“Our immediate focus now will be to work with every venue that was ineligible for funding, and any venue that was unsuccessful in their application to this fund, to ensure that at the end of this crisis communities right across the country have a thriving and healthy live music scene to return to.”
Some 1,385 arts and cultural organisations will receive money as a result of this round of funding. Others will be announced in the coming weeks.
For the past three months JPIMedia, which publishes this newspaper, has been running a campaign called The Show Must Go On. It has highlighted the importance of such venues to our towns and cities, voicing the needs of professional and amateur theatres, grassroots music venues and community arts centres. The campaign has worked with Music Venue Trust, Theatres Trust and Future Arts Centres to keep the issue in the headlines.
Visit www.artscouncil.org.uk/publication/culture-recovery-fund-data for more information.