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More than 1,000 arts organisations thrown lifeline as Culture Recovery Funds confirmed

Park Theatre, Bristol Old Vic, the Young Vic, The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster and Hope Mill in Manchester are among venues that will be awarded a share of £257 million, in the first allocation of money from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Park Theatre’s Artistic Director Jez Bond said, “
We are delighted and relieved to receive the Cultural Recovery Grant of £250,000 from the government. The very essence of theatre is gathering people together in the same room for a live, shared experience – and the economics of venues at our scale, mean that it’s not financially viable to produce shows with social distancing in place.” 


The tranche of cash is part of the government’s £1.6bn Culture Recovery Fund, and will “protect these special places” which “form the soul of our nation”, said culture secretary Oliver Dowden.

Today’s recipients are venues and organisations who applied for less than £1m, with future releases of up to £3m going to larger organisations in the future.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden at Bristol Old Vic

Speaking today, Bristol Old Vic’s Artistic Director, Tom Morris said: “This is fantastic news for many arts organisations all over the country. For Bristol Old Vic it is transformative. Immediately, it keeps us open and prevents another devastating round of redundancies. Beyond that, it gives us a solid platform from which we can contribute to the economic and social recovery which must follow the pandemic over the next two years.”

Thankfully, people are beginning to understand just how valuable culture is, and how much in danger it is. And how historically important it is.

But while theatre buildings fight for their survival, it is the freelance workforce that brings them to life and they are endangered too. The pandemic has raised awareness of the significant precariousness that self-employed freelancers find themselves in compared with those who are employed by national portfolio organisations.

Interestingly, there were 1,385 CRF grants awarded – with 428 in London and 96 in the West Midlands.

This lifeline will come too late for some organisations who have already been forced to close their doors for good or made valued employees redundant.

Last week hundreds of freelance musicians played outside parliament to highlight the plight of self-employed artists.

The government argued that reopening venues creates work for those freelancers.

Time will tell. 

Full list of successful Culture Recovery Fund applicants