Thirty-five of the country’s leading cultural organisations and venues will be the first to receive grants between £1 and £3 million from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced.
£75 million will protect some of the nation’s most significant stages, from the iconic Shakespeare’s Globe and the internationally renowned Sadler’s Wells to major theatres like the Old Vic, Sheffield Crucible, Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Theatre Royal Plymouth. These famous organisations have been essential stepping stones for some of the UK’s brightest stars including Adrian Lester, Abi Morgan, Mark Rylance and David Tennant.
Grants are being awarded to places that define culture in all corners of the country, providing jobs, supporting the wider community and engaging the public through innovative means during the pandemic.
More than £500 million has now been allocated from the Culture Recovery Fund to nearly 2,500 cultural organisations and venues of all sizes, including cinemas, heritage sites, museums, circuses, festivals and comedy clubs across the country, to help them plan for reopening and restarting performances and programmes. The certainty and security provided by these grants will also help to support organisations as they plan for the future and create opportunities for freelancers.
Mr Dowden said: “As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund…we’re saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3 million – from Shakespeare’s Globe to the Sheffield Crucible. These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are. This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away.”
All four nations are benefiting from the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, with £188 million barnetted to the Devolved Administrations to run their own process – £97 million for Scotland, £59 million for Wales and £33 million for Northern Ireland. This funding will enable them to increase the support already available to the arts and cultural sectors in each nation.
Some of the nation’s best known organisations will receive funding including The Old Vic, one of the capital’s leading independent not-for profit theatres, which will be able to continue making new work and provide opportunities for freelancers thanks to their £3 million grant.
Andrew Scott, Actor and The Old Vic Ambassador, welcomed the move as a “hugely exciting and positive step forward in helping The Old Vic survive and thrive”.
More than £52 million, 70 per cent of the total awarded in this round, will be going to organisations outside of London.
The award-winning Black Country Living Museum, which has provided a backdrop to popular series like Peaky Blinders and feature films like Stan & Ollie, will be able to reopen thanks to a grant of £2,559,805 so they can continue to employ uniquely skilled staff in the West Midlands. Funding will also go to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, one of the UK’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which has huge local significance and supports the region’s tourism industry.
These grants will help support the pipeline of innovative productions and work in theatres across the country. Manchester’s Royal Exchange, where actors like Andrew Garfield performed at the start of their careers, will be able to reopen when it is safe to do so thanks to a grant of £2,854,444. The Sheffield Theatre Trust, which includes the renowned Crucible Theatre, will receive £2,246,000 to reopen for a new season including a pop-up panto for Christmas if it is safe to do so. £1,380,023 will allow the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, a major cultural venue in the city, to deliver Covid-secure events and create jobs for artists and freelancers as well as transitioning to a more sustainable business model.
Adrian Lester, Actor, Director, Writer and Trustee of the Board of The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, said: “The REP was one of the main reasons I applied to drama school. It was the first theatre I visited as a child and the first theatre I ever performed in. Without it, my life may have taken a completely different course.”
Lester said the impact The REP has goes far beyond the economic contribution it makes to his home city.
“It is an essential and vital pathway for aspiring talent and for creating truly world class productions and for welcoming back that talent when it has flowered,” he said.
“This wonderful news ensures that this historic, pioneering theatre – now under the exciting new leadership of Artistic Director Sean Foley and Executive Director Rachael Thomas – will be there to inspire and entertain again when it is possible to return to full production.”
Picture: Shakespeare’s Globe in London, seen from Bankside. (Tristan Surtel).