£165m invested in major arts institutions as Culture Fund surpasses £1bn

Over £165 million in repayable finance has been offered to support some of the county’s most iconic art institutions today (December 11), including the National Theatre, Southbank Centre, the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Shakespeare Company, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced.

The government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, aimed at protecting the future of the arts sector in light of the COVID-19 crisis, exceeded the £1 billion mark today, with £400 million of the fund still to be allocated. According to government figures, the fund has so far supported in excess of 75,000 jobs, while £60 million in capital funding has been awarded for ongoing construction and maintenance work, 75 per cent of which has been granted outside of London.

The £165 million loans announced today have been offered to 11 organisations that ‘demonstrated opportunities to engage local communities through education and outreach programmes’. The organisations receiving loans provide work for more than 9,000 people, taking the total number of jobs supported by the CRF to more than 75,000. The government said that many more freelancers and jobs in vital supply chain industries will also benefit as part of its Plan for Jobs to support, protect and create jobs across the UK.

Tailored loans have been offered to  cultural institutions with an initial repayment holiday of up to four years, low interest rate and up to 20-year repayment term to ensure they are affordable for arts and heritage organisations.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s loan of £19.4 million will enable the company to look to reopen full-scale productions in Stratford-upon-Avon and London in Spring 2021. It will also enable the RSC to continue its national education and partnership activity and ensure the company can revisit previous touring plans.

The security of the repayable finance will also help protect organisations – like the National Theatre – as they restart performances and programmes, providing work for staff and freelancers in the run-up to Christmas.

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The National Theatre will benefit from £19.7 million of support as it reopens. The venue, made some of its most famous productions available for free online, is reopening with a pantomime for socially distanced audiences as well as filming a new version of Romeo and Juliet for TV starring Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor. 

Dowden commented: “This government promised it would be here for culture and today’s announcement is proof we’ve kept our word.

“The £1 billion invested so far through the Culture Recovery Fund has protected tens of thousands of jobs at cultural organisations across the UK, with more support still to come through a second round of applications.

Today we’re extending a huge helping hand to the crown jewels of UK culture – so that they can continue to inspire future generations all around the world.”

Meanwhile, as part of the Culture Recover Fund, £60 million in grants is being delivered through the Capital Kickstart Fund, designed to accelerate previously-funded projects that will revitalise core assets in local communities and provide opportunities for work across a range of sectors.

Additional investment for capital projects impacted by the pandemic has also been awarded to 74 arts organisations of all sizes. So far, over £107 million in capital grant funding has been awarded to 260 projects across arts and heritage sectors.

Recipients include the Turner Contemporary in Margate, which has been awarded £264,000 to complete a long-term transformation of its visitor facilities and digital infrastructure as well as improving the environmental sustainability of the site. 

The Factory will receive £21,000,000 in capital investment towards the completion of the project to create a world-class cultural space in the heart of Manchester, while Nottingham’s Broadway will receive £144,000 to refurbish visitor spaces whilst reducing the centre’s energy usage to create a more environmentally sustainable future to the regional film hub. The project was due to be completed by September 2020, and this funding will ensure the plans can be completed quickly and safely to reopen and welcome back audiences.

Alexandra Palace will receive £2,967,600 to help it deliver a diverse programme of live, covid-secure events this winter by covering increased essential costs and supplementing income.

Devolved Administrations received £188 million through the Barnett Formula to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund has a ‘fundamental and far-reaching impact across all four nations’. Northern Ireland has allocated £29 million to a COVID-19 Culture, Languages, Arts and Heritage Support Programme, and over £5 million to a Heritage Recovery Fund. Wales has established a £63.7 million Cultural Recovery Fund including £20 million to support music, dance, theatre, literature, and the arts allocated by Arts Council Wales. Scotland’s £59 million funding package has also been used to support the arts, heritage, and grassroots music and established a £15 million Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund.

In England, more than £500 million in grants up to £3 million have been awarded to over 3,000 museums, music venues, independent cinemas, circuses, heritage sites and theatres across the country.