UK Arts sector to receive £1.57B support package

Theatres and more are set to benefit from what is described as “the biggest-ever one-off investment in UK culture.”


A substantial rescue package for UK arts venues was announced on Sunday 5 July, promising £1.57B of support for institutions and companies struggling due to the impact of Covid-19. The move has been welcomed by arts leaders including the National Theatre’s Artistic Director Rufus Norris and the Society of London Theatre’s Chief Executive Julian Bird.

Boris Johnson has said he thinks the package will “help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat.” In the announcement of the funding, the government described the package as “the biggest-ever one-off investment in UK culture.”

The funding will support theatres, museums, galleries, independant cinemas, music venues, and heritage sites. 

Decisions are yet to be made on who would receive these funds. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, speaking on BBC Breakfast, has said that institutions would need to prove how they contribute to wider economic growth as part of the grant application process.

The overall package includes £880M in grants, £270M in loans, £100M for national cultural institutions, and £120M for restarting construction projects. An additional £156M will be funnelled to devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

The funding is in addition to the government’s ongoing furlough programme and other standard business relief including business rate relief and deferral of VAT payments.

Arts organisations have called for greater clarity around the package and for speedy distribution of support to save many companies and venues on the brink.

"This money is welcome and should take some out of the danger zone, if only temporarily," said Julian Knight, chairman of the House of Commons culture select committee. "But to secure their long-term future there needs to be a targeted sector deal, possibly involving more generous tax breaks."

The announcement follows weeks of lobbying and petitioning from arts organisations and workers across the UK. In one campaign, a group of stage designers wrapped theatres across the country in barrier tape, reading “Missing Live Theatre”.

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