UK government announces culture funding package
The UK government has announced a £1.57bn support package for Britain’s arts and culture sector.

The package covers funding for Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues. It includes a £1.15bn pot for cultural organizations in England, comprised of £270m in loans and £880m in grants.

The news comes after months of lobbying from the Music Venues Trust (MVT) and its #saveourvenues campaign, which has been calling on Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and his government to dig deep to ensure grassroots venues can survive the pandemic’s economic fallout. Those venues have been unable to open since March, when PM Johnson announced a complete lockdown of the UK.

On Thursday (July 2), a host of top artists from the UK – including Sir Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa and Liam Gallagher – heaped further pressure on the government as part of an industry-wide #LetTheMusicPlay campaign.

In a joint letter, some 1,500 artists said: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.

“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.”

Today, in a surprise announcement, Boris Johnson revealed an emergency package of funding for the sector. The British government calls the rescue package HM Treasury’s “biggest-ever one-off investment in UK culture”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country.

“This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.”

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.”

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “Our world-renowned galleries, museums, heritage sites, music venues and independent cinemas are not only critical to keeping our economy thriving, employing more than 700,000 people, they’re the lifeblood of British culture.

“That’s why we’re giving them the vital cash they need to safeguard their survival, helping to protect jobs and ensuring that they can continue to provide the sights and sounds that Britain is famous for.”

According to The Guardian, the support package includes:

A £1.15bn support pot for cultural organisations in England, consisting of £270m in loans and £880m in grants.

£100m of targeted support for England’s national cultural institutions and English Heritage.

£120m of capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England paused because of the pandemic.

Extra money for devolved administrations, with £97m for Scotland, £59m for Wales and £33m for Northern Ireland.

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venues Trust, said: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes this unprecedented intervention into Britain’s world class live music scene. We’d like to thank the Secretary of State and the team at DCMS for the opportunity to work closely together throughout this crisis to develop genuine solutions to the challenges faced by grassroots music venues.

“This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues and gives us the time we need to create a plan to safely reopen live music.”

And Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of the UK’s recorded music body BPI, said:“We are delighted that the Government has recognised the special importance of the arts and creativity – including music – to our national life. We warmly welcome specific mention of our cherished music venues, and to support for the arts, which should also assist our classical music sector.

“The live music industry, and the artist community that it supports, has felt the full, devastating force of the Covid-19 emergency and grassroots venues urgently require support if the UK is to retain its exceptional local music scene and continue to produce world-beating artists. We look forward to further discussing how the funds will be allocated.