UK government announces long-awaited arts, culture and heritage coronavirus rescue package

The UK government has announced a £1.57bn rescue package for Britain’s arts, culture and heritage industries, to aid recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

Emergency grants and loans will be made available to 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.

The package includes:

  • £1.15bn support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270m of repayable finance and £880m grants.
  • £100m of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.
  • £120m capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The new funding will also mean an extra £188m for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33m), Scotland (£97m) and Wales (£59m).

Decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such as Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

Further details are expected when the scheme opens for applications in the coming weeks.

Oliver Dowden, Culture Secretary, said

‘Our arts and culture are the soul of our nation. They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast-growing creative industries.

I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations. Today we are announcing a huge support package of immediate funding to tackle the funding crisis they face. I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.’

Arts Council England (ACE) has been working with officials and ministers at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and HM Treasury to help them come up with a package of relief. Welcoming the package, ACE’s CEO Darren Henley said:

‘This is a massive vote of confidence: in our sector’s quality, its reach and its roots in communities up and down the country. And it’s an acknowledgement of the importance of creativity and culture to the future wellbeing of the country.  It’s also an investment that will see a healthy return over time as theatres, museums, galleries, arts centres, music venues and artists themselves eventually get back to what they do best, creating.’

However, he added:

‘There has been an audible sigh of relief right around the country today. But I want to be honest: there are some truly tough decisions to make and difficult times ahead. And I fear that not everything that we want to save, can be saved.'

Read Darren’s blog on the relief package in full here