2021 Budget: Arts and culture sector to receive £400 million in additional financial support

The 2021 Budget will be shared by Rishi Sunak on 3 March.

Photo credit: Theatre curtain (Photo by Rob Laughter on Unsplash)

In the 2021 Budget announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, details about support for the arts and culture industries have been revealed. As reported by the BBC Sunak is expected to announce over £408 million of help for theatres, museums and galleries to reopen when Covid restrictions are eased.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sunak said: "this budget meets the moment with a three part plan to protect jobs and livelihoods of British people" and that he will continue to protect the economy in a“swifter and more sustained" way than first expected. 

As well as financial help to theatres and the arts and culture sector, more apprenticeships will also be launched in the creative industries. The furlough scheme will also be extended to 30 September, with support for self-employed continuing to 30 September. For those who have been affected most by the pandemic, they will receive a full grant of 80%.

This has also been backed up by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who shared on Twitter that the "#Budget will include £400m for the arts on top of £1.5bn already announced. It's a relief we can look ahead now so this funding is not just about survival, but planning & preparing for reopening of theatres, galleries and gigs.”

Although there’s been debate surrounding government funding and support for freelancers in the creative sector, Mr Sunak has stressed the importance of the cultural industries, commenting on them as a “significant driver” in any recovery. Currently, more than 700,000 people in the United Kingdom work in the arts and culture sector.

It’s expected that an additional £300 million will be injected into the Culture Recovery Fund, which gave over £1.5 billion to theatres nationwide. London theatres that benefitted from the Culture Recovery Fund included Almeida Theatre, Criterion Theatre Trust, the Kiln Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Southwark Playhouse Theatre Company and Young Vic Company.

News of the 2021 Budget comes a week after the Coronavirus roadmap, which stated that theatres could open from as early as 17 May. After the news, Andrew Lloyd Webber has shared reopening dates for his musicals, including the world premiere of Cinderella now at the Gillian Lynne Theatre from July. 

There has also been discussions about what this will mean for freelancers. Speaking on Radio 2, Come From Away's Alice Fearn suggested that if shows have to keep opening and closing again, they will close for good. "We have to tread carefully because we want shows to be able to run once they open successfully. At the minute, it's not a guarantee." You can listen to Alice Fearn on Radio 2 around the 14 minute mark here.

You can find out what the Coronavirus roadmap means for London theatres here

Photo credit: Theatre curtain (Photo by Rob Laughter on Unsplash)

Article Updated: 4 March 2021.

 

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