Covid-19: £1.57bn support package for arts and culture

The government has announced a £1.57bn rescue package to help Britain’s arts, culture and heritage industries weather the impact of coronavirus, after leading figures from the world of theatre, music and museums warned of widespread venue closures and job losses

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 via the scheme, which represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture.

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.’

The package includes funding for national cultural institutions in England and investment in cultural and heritage sites to restart construction work paused as a result of the pandemic.

There is a £1.15bn support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270m of repayable finance and £880m grants.

In addition, there is £100m of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust, as well as £120m 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 £188m for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33m), Scotland (£97m) and Wales (£59m).

The Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such s Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

Repayable finance will be issued on generous terms tailored for cultural institutions to ensure they are affordable. Further details will be set out when the scheme opens for applications in the coming weeks.

Julian Bird, chief executive, Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre, said: ‘The government’s announcement of a £1.57bn package of support for the arts, culture and heritage sector in the UK is hugely welcomed – for the theatre and performing arts sector, we have worked intensively with DCMS and HMT to seek this clear commitment to our world-leading industry and we thank them.

‘Venues, producers and the huge workforce in the theatre sector look forward to clarity of how these funds will be allocated and invested, so that artists and organisations can get back to work as soon as possible.’

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