I very much regret the impact that coronavirus has had on performing arts in our country, and look forward to when our treasured cultural sector can make a full return.
I strongly welcome the £1.57 billion rescue package that has been announced to help Britain’s globally renowned arts, culture and heritage industries weather the impact of coronavirus. Thousands of organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans. The money, which represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture, will provide a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations across the country hit hard by the pandemic. Further details about the package can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/157-billion-investment-to-protect-britains-world-class-cultural-arts-and-heritage-institutions
This package builds on earlier support measures, including a £160 million emergency response package announced by Arts Council England in March. Further details can be found on the Arts Council’s website (https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19).
The Culture Secretary has announced that the first tranche of funding from the £1.57 billion cultural recovery package will be used to save around 150 grassroots music venues from insolvency.
£2.25 million of emergency funding will be used to support venues at imminent risk of collapse. Grants of up to £80,000 to help venues survive the next few months, to cover essential on-going costs for venues including rent, utilities, maintenance contracts and other bills.
The business rates retail discount has been extended to 100 per cent and is applicable to music venues irrespective of rateable value.
The establishment of the Entertainment and Events Working Group was also very welcome. The Working Group informs and supports the work of the Cultural Renewal Taskforce headed by the Culture Secretary, which is working to find innovative ways to reopen the arts sector as soon as possible.
I am particularly pleased that socially distanced indoor and outdoor performances can now take place in line with Government guidance, although organisations are being encouraged to continue to work outdoors wherever possible. This, alongside the work being done with representatives of the entertainment and events industry to develop supporting guidance, represents a vital step in the roadmap to recovery for our nations’ theatres.
I know the Secretary of State, Ministers and DCMS officials continue to consult the creative and cultural sectors extensively to ensure they understand fully the potential impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak on the sector. DCMS officials and ministers have also held regular calls with representatives from across the arts and cultural sector and these have included representatives from the Royal Shakespeare Company and a number of dance schools and representatives including Sadler’s Wells and Northern Ballet.
I of course remain supportive of local arts centres and happy to support funding applications made, as and when I am made aware by the applicant.