£1.57bn rescue package for cultural
and heritage industries

Oliver Dowden 650px 

The UK's world-renowned arts, culture and heritage industries will receive a £1.57 billion rescue package to help weather the impact of coronavirus, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (above) has announced.

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 eligible to apply for the mixture of emergency grants and loans.

The money, which represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture, will help venues and organisations stay afloat while their doors are closed and audiences are unable to attend as usual because of social distancing rules.

Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors.

Many of Britain’s cultural and heritage institutions have already received unprecedented financial assistance through the pandemic including loans, business rate holidays and participation in the coronavirus job retention scheme. More than 350,000 people in the recreation and leisure sector have been furloughed since the pandemic began.

The new package includes:

  • a £1.15 billion support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270 million of repayable finance and £880 million grants.
  • £100 million of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.
  • £120 million 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 £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million).

It has been welcomed by industry leaders, including representatives of the Music Venue Trust, the National Museums Directors Council, and the Association of British Orchestras, and practitioners such as playwright James Graham,  musician Nicola Benedetti, and the conductor Sir Simon Rattle.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "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."

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.

Repayable finance will be issued on terms tailored for cultural institutions to ensure they are affordable. Further details will be set out when the scheme opens for applications in the coming weeks.

The announcement follows a series of calls by industry on the government to provide targeted measures for the cultural and creative industries, including a report by the Creative Industries Federation that the UK faced a cultural catastrophe in the absence of such financial support, and the submission of a transition and recovery plan by the Creative Industries Council.