UK government announces £1.57 billion support package for the arts

It aims to provide thousands of organisations with access to emergency grants and loans.

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall / Photo:
Gonzalo Azumendi

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The British government has announced a £1.57 billion support package to help its arts, culture and heritage industries “weather the impact of coronavirus”. This marks the HM Treasury’s “biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture.”

The scheme will provide thousands of organisations within the arts, culture and heritage sector with access to emergency grants and loans. These were said to include live music venues, along with other performing arts theatres, heritage sites, museums, galleries and independent cinemas.

As well as businesses, the package will also go to support employment in the arts sector, “including freelancers”. It was noted that over 350,000 workers in the recreation and leisure sector had been furloughed since the pandemic began.

“From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a press release.

“This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.”

£1.15 billion in funds will go towards a ‘support pot’ for cultural organisations based in England – made up of £270 million in loans and £880 million in grants.

In addition, the package will also see funds allocated to the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million).

The British government will rely on “expert independent figures” provided by the Arts Council England, as well as other specialist bodies in the arts sector, in deciding which organisations qualify for the funds. Further details will be made known as the scheme opens for applications in the coming weeks.

Last week, the UK’s Concert Promoters Association launched the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, calling for government aid to support the sector through the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1500 artists, from the likes of Radiohead, Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, all signed an open letter in support of the movement.

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