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COVID-19: UK cultural, arts and heritage institutions set to receive £1.57bn

The UK government has announced a £1.57bn package of support for cultural organisations to be delivered through grants and loans, and funding for capital projects. How much is new money, how much will need to be repaid and how much has come from previously announced commitments to the national infrastructure is unclear.  

The package announced includes funding for national cultural institutions in England and investment in cultural and heritage sites to restart construction work paused as a result of the pandemic. The government claims 'this will be a big step forward to help rebuild our cultural infrastructure'.

The package includes:

  • £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).

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 generous 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.

Although welcomed across the board by leading arts administrators and bodies such as the Royal Opera House, it is unclear whether the funding will actually support smaller organisations not already in receipt of public funding, those outside of London in the same way that London's national bodies look set to benefit, individual artists and freelancers, and venues that have been impacted by social distancing restrictions that are set to be in place for many months. The funding of capital projects may be premature when it is unclear that audiences will return.  

Read the government announcement here:  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/157-billion-investment-to-protec...

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