The government has unveiled a £1.57bn support package to help protect the futures of UK theatres, galleries, museums and other cultural venues. 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.
It follows several weeks of pressure, with industry leaders warning that many venues were on the brink of collapse. The money, which represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture, will provide a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations across the country hit hard by the pandemic. It will help them stay afloat while their doors are closed. Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors.
Guidance for a phased return of the performing arts, starting with performances behind closed doors and rehearsals, is expected to be published by the government shortly. However, venues are likely to face restrictions on capacity due to the need to maintain social distancing when they do reopen. There are also fears that music concerts and festivals may not take place until 2021.
The Arts Council has previously said that 108 venues and organisations it funds would lose about £4m in income by the end of June. The UK government said the arts funding “represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture” and will help struggling institutions “stay afloat while their doors are closed”. The support fund for cultural organisations in England is made up of £270m of loans and £880m of grants. The UK government said the loans would be “issued on generous terms”.
From the £1.7 billion pound investment, Northern Ireland is to receive £33m as part of a UK government support package for arts venues. However, it is not yet clear how the money will be spent, where it will be targeted and whether additional support will be available to individuals in the arts whose incomes have been affected by the loss of work.
Ní Chuilín welcomes £33m allocation of funds
Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, has welcomed the news that the Executive will receive £33million, following the announcement by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that they are to invest £1.57 billion in cultural, arts and heritage institutions.
The Minister said: “Since arts, culture and heritage are devolved matters, this £33million is our share of the significant support package announced by the British Chancellor and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Whilst ultimately it will be for the Executive to decide on how this money should be spent, the argument for a comprehensive package of support to local musicians, freelancers, theatres, artists, museums and the heritage sector at a time when they are struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be overstated.
“Last week I announced that the sector is to benefit from an initial £4m from Executive funds, however it was always expected that much more additional finance would be required to help protect the sector that is vital to our economy and wellbeing. I will be making strong representations to my Executive colleagues at the earliest opportunity on how this money should be spent to ensure the short term and long term sustainability of the sector.”