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Arts organisations from circus to theatres receive funding

By Sherna Noah and Thomas Hornall, PA
·4-min read

Arts organisations from a traditional circus to a museum which served as a location for Downton Abbey have been given government grants of up to £1 million.

Theatres, galleries, performance groups, museums and local venues have obtained a slice of the Government’s £1.6 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

A total of £257 million “to save” 1,385 cultural organisations across England has been announced, with larger grants to be disclosed in the coming days.

Dame Darcey Bussell, president of the Royal Academy of Dance, which is receiving £606,366, was among those welcoming the funding.

“We cannot overestimate the value of arts and culture in our lives, and its ability to build community, resilience and bring joy,” she said.

Sir Simon Rattle, music director of the London Symphony Orchestra, which has been awarded £846,000, said: “We have refused to let live music be silenced, but it cannot survive on energy and optimism alone.

“Today’s announcement is incredibly important for orchestras and the whole live music sector, threatened with devastation by the effects of the pandemic.”

Recipients also include Liverpool’s Cavern Club and Bristol’s Old Vic theatre.

John Boyega
Theatre Peckham, where Star Wars’ John Boyega first learned to act, is one of the recipients (Ian West/PA)

The Cavern Club, which launched the career of The Beatles, is currently closed due to increasing coronavirus transmission rates in Liverpool.

It will receive £525,000 to fund the recording of local musicians’ live performances which will be streamed digitally “to provide opportunities for local artists and technicians”.

Giffords Circus, Stroud, a traditional, family run, village green circus, is receiving £240,000 so it can continue to trade to the opening of their 2021 season in April next year.

The circus makes its costumes, paints its own sets and trains its own horses.

Venues also include the Living Museum of the North – Co Durham, which was a location for the Downton Abbey movie as well as the last episode of the TV series.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the Government had “worked around the clock to get this record investment out to the front line” and “is here for culture”.

Liverpool economy
A wall of fame in Mathew Street in Liverpool featuring the names of members of The Beatles and other bands who performed at the Cavern Club (Peter Byrne/PA)

He said the grants will “allow our wonderful theatres, museums, music venues and cultural organisations to survive this crisis and start putting on performances again – protecting jobs and creating new work for freelancers.

“This is just the start – with hundreds of millions pounds more on the way for cultural organisations of all sizes that still need our help.”

Other venues in line for a boost include the Northcott Theatre in Exeter and Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield.

The Charles Dickens Museum and Florence Nightingale Museum, both in London, are also recipients.

Wigmore Hall in London, National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Halle Concerts Society, Manchester and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic are also among those receiving funds.

Bristol Old Vic
The Bristol Old Vic theatre (PA)

And they include Theatre Peckham, London, where Star Wars’ John Boyega first learned to act, and Heugh Battery Museum, Hartlepool, an open air museum dedicated to the First World War.

The announcement comes after Rishi Sunak was accused of an “incredibly insulting” attitude towards the arts by frustrated workers currently unable to earn an income.

The Chancellor was criticised last week when, during an interview about the effect of the pandemic on people working in the arts, he spoke about the need to “adapt” and suggested there would be “fresh and new opportunities” available for those who could not do their old jobs.

But Mr Sunak has denied he was suggesting people in the struggling creative industries should retrain and find other jobs after coronavirus left them unable to work.

According to Arts Council England, the arts and culture industry contributes more than £10 billion a year to the UK economy, with £3 spent on food, drink, accommodation and travel for every £1 spent on theatre tickets.