UK arts & music venues receive government lifeline
Posted on: Monday 6th of July 2020
Britain’s globally renowned arts, culture and heritage industries will receive a world-leading £1.57bn rescue package to help weather the impact of coronavirus, the government announced on July 5th. The package covers funding for Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues. It includes a £1.15bn fund for cultural organisations in England, comprised of £270m in loans and £880m in grants.
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. It will help them stay afloat while their doors are closed. Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors. This new package will be available across the country and ensure the future of these multi billion-pound industries are secured.
The news comes after months of lobbying from the Music Venues Trust (MVT) and its #saveourvenues campaign, which has been calling on Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and his government to ensure grassroots venues can survive the pandemic’s economic fallout. Those venues have been unable to open since March, when PM Johnson announced a complete lockdown of the UK.
On July 2nd top artists from the UK – including Sir Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Liam Gallagher – placed further pressure on the government as part of an industry-wide #LetTheMusicPlay campaign. In a joint letter, underscored by 1,500 artists, the campaign stated: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak. Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.”
The new funding will also mean an extra £188m for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33m), Scotland (£97m) and Wales (£59m). “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 Johnson. “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.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told BBC Breakfast new grants and loans aim to preserve ‘crown jewels’ in the UK’s art sector as well as local venues. Arts Council chairman Sir Nicholas Serota told BBC News the funding was “a very good result”. He said: “Now it’s up to the arts organisations and the Arts Council to make best use of this money and bring the arts back into communities across the county. This announcement gives us the tools to help build a recovery.”
Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venues Trust, said: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes this unprecedented intervention into Britain’s world class live music scene. We’d like to thank the Secretary of State and the team at DCMS for the opportunity to work closely together throughout this crisis to develop genuine solutions to the challenges faced by grassroots music venues. This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues and gives us the time we need to create a plan to safely reopen live music.”
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the UK recorded music body BPI, said: “We are delighted that the Government has recognised the special importance of the arts and creativity – including music – to our national life. We warmly welcome specific mention of our cherished music venues, and to support for the arts, which should also assist our classical music sector. The live music industry, and the artist community that it supports, has felt the full, devastating force of the Covid-19 emergency and grassroots venues urgently require support if the UK is to retain its exceptional local music scene and continue to produce world-beating artists. We look forward to further discussing how the funds will be allocated.”