Government announces £1.57 billion in support of the arts sector

The rescue package has been described as a “game changer” that could save an industry on the brink of collapse. But questions around the details still remain.

Date
6 July 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

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It’s been a worrying few months for the creative industries and those working within it. Freelancers have found jobs put on pause, many companies have been forced to furlough employees and those sectors that rely on live events, like music and theatre, have had to stop operating altogether. In response to this, the UK government last night (Sunday 5 July) pledged £1.57 billion in order to support the creative industry.

The announcement follows several weeks of pressure and uncertainty coupled with warnings that several venues in the UK would have to close if no support was offered. The bailout has been received positively, with many pleasantly surprised by the amount.

Caroline Norbury MBE, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, said in a statement: “This unprecedented £1.57 billion investment is a seismic step forward. Our creative industries are teetering on the brink of cultural collapse – and this could be the game-changer we need.”

Jefferson Hack, CEO and co-founder of Dazed Media, has called it an “inspired move from government to stop our cultural institutions from collapse and give our arts and cultural sector the necessary boost to not only survive but innovate through the pandemic”.

The so-called rescue package will be available to independent cinemas, heritage sites, music venues and more and has two broad aims, as outlined by culture secretary Oliver Dowden: to preserve “crown jewel” venues such as national galleries and theatres, as well as to support independent and local institutions across the UK.

The package includes a £1.15bn support pot for cultural organisations in England, consisting of £270m in loans and £880m in grants; £100m for national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust; £120m of capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England paused because of the pandemic; as well as funding to the devolved administrations, with £33m to Northern Ireland, £97m to Scotland, and £59m to Wales.

According to Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of ITV, this blend of grants and loans will “help many critical institutions keep going until they can open again,” before we can then sort long-term solutions, adding that it is a “very welcome first step”. Norbury echoed this sentiment, saying that “there will be so much more to do to ensure that our world-beating creative sector can thrive once more and as we move forwards through the challenging days and months ahead, it will be crucial that the creative industries work together to reimagine all of our futures.”

Questions do remain surrounding the specifics of the scheme, however. The government has not, for instance, explained how the money will be divided up between competing regions and institutions, nor how the application process will work. Inevitably, there will be those who miss out. Similarly, certain commentators have pointed out that the timeline is hazy at best.

Nonetheless, Norbury said she is “confident the creative industries will play a vital role in powering the UK out of the forthcoming economic crisis and this investment will help the creative and cultural sector to rise to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

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National Theatre London, London (Photo by Simone Hutsch on Unsplash)

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

rbd@itsnicethat.com

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