• Josh Crowe

Arts venues welcome £1.57bn government support


The government has unveiled a £1.57bn support package to help protect the futures of UK theatres, galleries, museums and other cultural venues. The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden explained how new grants and loans aim to preserve "crown jewels" in the UK's art sector as well as local venues. Such funding has been provided in light of several weeks of pressure, with industry leaders warning that many venues were on the brink of collapse. Independent cinemas like Hyde Park Picture House and music venues like Brudenell Social Club will be eligible.

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. Mr Dowden said the package is all "new money" and has two broad aims - to preserve "crown jewel" venues like the Royal Albert Hall and national galleries, while also helping local institutions across the UK.

He said institutions applying for the new grants and loans through industry bodies would have to prove that they contribute to wider economic growth. Whilst many would leap to the conclusion that such funding ends uncertainty regarding people keeping their jobs or being made redundant industry experts still are unsure whether it'll be enough. Adrian Vinken, the chief executive of the Theatre Royal in Plymouth told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was "impossible to say" if the announcement would be enough to prevent up to 100 job losses there until more detail is released.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the money "will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat". The government have described the package as "the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture".Mr Dowden said arts and culture were "the soul of our nation". He said: "They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast growing creative industries."

He also pointed out the latest funding adds to government schemes including the furlough scheme to safeguard the jobs of workers and VAT deferral and business rate relief to help those running venues. Julian Knight, Conservative chairman of the House of Commons culture select committee, said more action would be needed. "This money is welcome and should take some out of the danger zone, if only temporarily," he said. "But to secure their long-term future there needs to be a targeted sector deal, possibly involving more generous tax breaks."

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