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Government’s £1.57bn support package welcomed by Arts Industry

by Kelly Ross

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Following several weeks of lobbying from theatres, music venues, art galleries and other cultural institutions, this week the Government announced a £1.57billion support package for UK’s arts industries.

The support package will provide music venues, independent cinemas, museums, galleries, theatres and heritage sites with emergency grants and loans to help them “weather the impact of coronavirus”.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the funding would provide a "lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations" that have been hit hard by the pandemic, helping to provide them with security while they are closed. It also said the funding to restart paused projects would support employment, including for freelancers working in these sectors.

In the theatre industry alone, 70% of workers are freelance, many of whom have fallen through the gaps of existing financial support.

According to the Government’s press release, more than 350,000 people in the recreation and leisure sector have been furloughed since the pandemic began.

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer said: ”Our world-renowned galleries, museums, heritage sites, music venues and independent cinemas are not only critical to keeping our economy thriving, employing more than 700,000 people, they’re the lifeblood of British culture.

“That’s why we’re giving them the vital cash they need to safeguard their survival, helping to protect jobs and ensuring that they can continue to provide the sights and sounds that Britain is famous for.”

It is understood that the majority of the money will be paid out in emergency grants, while there will also be a package of repayable loans, additional support targeted at national cultural institutions in England and capital investment for infrastructure projects.

The package includes:

·       £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).

The announcement did not give any further details about when theatres would be able to reopen to audiences, although it is understood that guidance is currently being finalised.

Mina Machacek, Managing Director of Creative Personnel, said: “I grew up with a deep love of the theatre and I am extremely lucky to work for a business that helps the best creative talent find roles in the arts industry. To be creative and have a platform is a much-needed form of expression which shapes all other professions. I’m certain this investment into our much-loved arts industry will provide the lifeline to be able to take the next steps towards recovery.”

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