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UK Government Announces £1.57 Billion Rescue Package For The Arts

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UK Government Announces £1.57 Billion Rescue Package For The Arts

The UK Government has announced a £1.57 billion rescue package to help the nation's cultural, arts and heritage institutions weather the impact of Coronavirus. It follows weeks of lobbying from arts leaders of impending disaster, and the closure of venues like Nuffield Southampton Theatres.

The funding will go to support struggling theatres, museums, galleries, music venues, heritage sites and independent cinemas. It includes £880 million of grants for the financial year to April 2021, supplemented by £270 million of repayable loans.

£120 million of capital investment will be made to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which were paused due to the pandemic. The devolved administrations will receive £188 million: £33 million for Northern Ireland, £97 million for Scotland and £59 million for Wales.

Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor, sent out the following tweet this evening:

Oliver Dowden, the UK Culture Secretary, also tweeted:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: 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. 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."

Mr Dowden described arts and culture as "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. I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations."

However, the Government has yet to supply details on how the funds will be distributed across the sector - and how exactly it will support the millions of freelance workers who do not benefit from funding support granted to venues.

According to the Government statement, "decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such as Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute. Repayable finance will be issued on generous terms tailored for cultural institutions to ensure they are affordable. Further details will be set out when the scheme opens for applications in the coming weeks."

The Conservative chairman of the House of Commons Culture Select Committee, Julian Knight MP, said more action would be needed. "This is the first step to help prevent some of our major cultural institutions from going under," he said. "This money is welcome and should take some out of the danger zone, if only temporarily. But to secure their long-term future there needs to be a targeted sector deal, possibly involving more generous tax breaks.

"We know that 1m social distancing doesn't work economically for most theatres and venues in the UK. We ultimately need to have a means by which these organisations can open safely and gain the confidence of the public. We'll await further details in the guidance when it is published."

Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said it "hugely welcomed" the funding.

"Venues, producers and the huge workforce in the theatre sector look forward to clarity of how these funds will be allocated and invested, so that artists and organisations can get back to work as soon as possible," he said.

Philippa Childs, head of the Bectu union, said: "At long last the government have woken up to our warnings and those of the whole creative sector, that without support, we stood to lose a huge amount of our world-beating creative industries.

"We will now be scrutinising the details of this package to make sure it lives up to the real needs of our sector."

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