Arts venues react to ‘lifeline’ of funding from Government

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Cultural organisations which have received funding as part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) have expressed their gratitude at the financial lifeline they have been given.

More than 1,300 arts and cultural organisations will receive a share of the £257 million, as a list of those that applied for grants under £1 million in the first round of the CRF were announced on Monday.

Arts Council England will distribute the funding on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Here is what some of the recipients have said:

– The manager of The Clapham Grand, which received £300,000, said they were “hungry to make the business a success”.

Ally Wolf said: “We would like to thank The Arts Council and the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport for their continued support, without which we would have most likely had to close by now.

“We would also like to thank The Music Venue Trust and The Night Time Industries Association for their incredible and invaluable advice and support throughout this Covid-19 era.

“More them anything we’d like to thank our audiences who have shown us huge support since we had to close during lockdown – with their donations to our Crowdfunder, and their faith in our ability to host safe, physically distanced shows by coming back to us now that we are reopening.

“Also, a huge thanks to our staff and the performers who have worked incredibly hard in this challenging time to make sure we keep this dream of a venue alive.

“Without people you are nothing and more than ever is this true. We will now concentrate all our efforts on making sure we make The Clapham Grand the best possible venue we can, a home for everyone to come and be entertained, escape reality and leave laughing – having made memories, friendships and experiences to last lifetimes.

“We are incredibly lucky to have been given this lifeline and are incredibly happy – but more than anything we are hungry to make the business a success.

“The Grand plays a huge part in London’s hospitality ecosystem with over 400 events a year and over 100,000 customers. We employ up to 60 people including freelancers, who look to The Grand to make a living and be part of an inspiring, mutually supportive community.

“We, like other venues across the country, also play an important role in the pipeline for new UK talent.”

The Young Vic Theatre, awarded £961,455, echoed the sentiment of other venues, describing the grant as a “lifeline”.

A statement from its artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, chair of the board Glenn Earle and its executive director Despina Tsatsas said: “It is no understatement that this grant is a lifeline for the Young Vic, enabling us to remain resilient and deliver new ways of making enriching work for and with our community, while we wait for the time when we can open fully to our audiences once again.

“The support will enable us to continue championing an inclusive sector, where we shape discourse, nurture new artists and talent, and engage audiences from many different backgrounds and experiences.

“The Young Vic is part of an ecosystem of extraordinary theatre-makers who have all been affected by this crisis, many of whom are freelancers, and for whom more must be done.

“We will play our part in assisting this community of people to remain and thrive in this industry to which they are so vital.”

Mr Earle said: “The funds announced today represent a vital step in the Young Vic’s recovery and in the renewal of our world-class sector.

“By investing in art and culture at this critical time, the UK Government has recognised the societal importance and economic contribution of this theatre and the industry as a whole, and for this we are extremely appreciative.”

The Turbine Theatre has been awarded £90,000.

The theatre’s artistic director Paul Taylor-Mills said: “The events of the last year have been life-changing for those working within the theatre industry.

“At the Turbine Theatre we’ve tried to be as resilient as we can be but the challenges of the last seven months have been unfathomable.

“Over this time we’ve continued to entertain audiences through our outdoor festival, we’ve employed a variety of freelancers to work on our shows and still programmed emerging talent. Furthermore, we’ve raised over £60,000 through our #FundForFreelancers support fund.

“The support from the Cultural Recovery Fund will allow us to retain staff, continue to promote new musicals/artists and ensure we’re able to hit the ground running for when we’re finally able to open our doors. I’m desperate that this will be sooner rather than later.

“Theatre remains an important part of so many people’s lives and not just the people who work within the industry. Its value to the economy and indeed the health and wellbeing of those that call this great country home should never be underestimated.

“I’m honoured that we’ve been chosen as one of the organisations trusted to get us back to a vibrant and meaningful future for the arts.”

Riverside Studios has been awarded a grant of £850,000 towards its operations.

Based in Hammersmith, the venue says it is a “home to a confluence of theatre, film, music, dance, comedy, visual art, enterprise, innovative technology, events and hospitality”.

Its interim executive director Tony Lankester said: “The Covid closure and the impossibility of staging live performance in our new building hit us hard – coming as it did just a few months after we re-opened.

“This grant helps the industry as a whole navigate its way through the next few months and, for us, ensures that Riverside can continue to play a vital role in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, while protecting the jobs of our mostly local team.”

Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, has been awarded £349,996.

Its chief executive Mary Cloake said: “We are delighted to receive funding through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

“This is an extremely challenging time for the cultural sector, and this grant will enable us to continue delivering outstanding work and support our creative community, while welcoming visitors in a safe environment. We are very grateful for the continued support of Arts Council England.”

– The Bush Theatre said in a statement: “We are delighted and relieved that the Bush Theatre was successful in its application to the Culture Recovery Fund, which is a vital support for us over the next six months.

“On behalf of staff and trustees, we want to thank Arts Council England, DCMS, and those individuals who have worked hard to deliver this fund.

“With this support, we can keep our doors open for the community of Shepherd’s Bush and move towards once again producing live theatre.

“However, we also want to acknowledge that this remains a difficult time for everyone, including the extraordinary, diverse talent that makes our industry so special – and the freelance community who are in particular need of support.

“50% of audiences to our shows are first-time visitors and we look forward to introducing even more new audiences to the best new playwrights. These connections between artists and audiences are fundamental to building strong and resilient communities that can weather this crisis.”

– Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre, which has been awarded £247,705, was also among the venues welcoming the news.

Executive director Caroline Routh said: “We’re incredibly grateful to have been awarded this funding. It will allow us to invest in in-depth audience development work and to explore ways in which we can make our work available to more people, all with the aim of strengthening our longer-term financial viability.

“We’ve already begun to re-open our theatre to the public, and audiences are returning, which is great news.

“Unfortunately, under current social distancing measures, we are operating at less than 30% of our capacity and that is only something we are currently able to sustain by investing a proportion of our reserves; clearly this is not possible for any period of time.

“This funding is very welcome news: now we have to get on with the hard work that is still needed to ensure that theatres across the country survive.”

– Cindy Sughrue, director of the Charles Dickens Museum, awarded £222,000, said: “We are delighted and relieved to receive this grant, which will allow us to continue to welcome visitors over the coming months.

“While we at the museum live and breathe Dickens all year round, we’ll soon be turning our attention towards Christmas, a time when his work becomes a part of many more people’s lives across the world.

“This year, it feels as though Dickens’s messages of generosity of spirit, warmth and community will be needed more than ever, at the end of a sapping year. We have big plans for Christmas and this grant will enable us to look ahead with optimism.”

– The CEO of Selladoor Worldwide, awarded £755,084, said the grant gave the company, one of the leading producers of touring theatre, a “fighting chance of recovery”.

David Hutchinson said: “We are delighted and very grateful to receive support from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund. The last seven months have been nothing short of devastating, both for our company and our industry as a whole.

“We have lost eight productions, as well as many of our team members, as we have tried to sustain a business with zero income. This financial lifeline allows us time to reimagine and restructure the business, so that we can be ready and able to help bring our sector back to life post-Covid-19.

“There is a long way to go, but this grant gives our company a fighting chance of recovery.

“In turn, we fully intend to do everything that we can to support our venue partners, fellow organisations and all of the fantastic professionals who work in our industry, so that can all move forward in our joint journey towards getting the arts back in business.”

– The Mary Rose Museum at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has received £655,304 after it closed its doors from March to August, leading to the loss of 84% of its annual income needed to cover the high conservation costs of the Tudor wreck.

Helen Bonser-Wilton, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: “Despite public closure, the vast costs of keeping the unique archaeological collection in climate-controlled environments 24/7 continue, meaning that the very existence of the Mary Rose was in serious doubt.

“While we had raised significant funds to survive until December from major grant funders and generous individual donors, we still had a considerable gap in funding to survive the year.

“The grant from the Cultural Recovery Fund, through Arts Council England, is literally a game-changer.

“It recognises the Mary Rose as one of the crown jewels of British culture that the fund was determined to save and means that the trust will now make it through the financial year.”

– Suzann McLean, the CEO and artistic director of Theatre Peckham in south London, which has been awarded £150,000, said: “We welcome this grant which enables us to keep our doors open and offer low-cost access to the arts to a community hard hit by Covid-19.

“Our young people define Theatre Peckham and this funding ensures we can fully respond to their needs.

“We have a commitment, across the board from governance to freelance artists, to acknowledge the real yet invisible logistical, cognitive and emotional barriers many face.”

– Jazz venue The 100 Club, which is in central London, has been awarded £491,486.

The venue’s owner, Jeff Horton, said: “This funding gives us a real fighting chance of surviving this current crisis, gives all of our staff security and will make a major contribution in allowing The 100 Club to be visited by future generations.”

– The Bronte Society, which runs the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, has been given £119,200.

Trish Gurney, chair of the society’s board of trustees, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has presented us with some of the most challenging circumstances we have ever found ourselves in.

“There is still some uncertainty ahead but the award from the Culture Recovery Fund means we can face the future with more confidence and ensure that we can continue to fulfil our mission to bring the Brontes to the world and the world to Yorkshire.”

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