Government Grants £1.57bn to Support the Arts

By Holly Brockwell on at

The government aren't slow to mention the many amazing performers, productions, playwrights and poets from our tiny island when they want to boost the UK's image abroad or increase tourism. So it's disappointing they took so long to do anything to help the many arts institutions facing severe problems thanks to covid-19.

Thankfully, they've finally stepped up and pledged a support package of £1.57bn to prop up our theatres, concert halls, art galleries, museums and other cultural spaces. When the Royal Albert Hall is facing closure, you know it's bad.

Oliver Dowden, the current Culture Secretary, told BBC Breakfast that the grants would prioritise the famous "crown jewels" of the UK arts scene (including the aforementioned RAH) but also provide support to smaller local venues.

To get a slice of the pie, organisations will have to prove that they provide something positive not just to the arts but also the economy. That might be difficult for some places: not every free educational institution can prove it funds capitalism. Take the Vagina Museum, for instance: admission is free, and it's too early in its life to realistically claim it brings tourists to the UK from abroad. Nonetheless, it's a valuable, necessary and clearly very wanted institution, as demonstrated by the fact that its whole existence was crowdfunded by the public and donations have continued during lockdown.

The grants, which are all "new money" (that means not just re-labelled existing grants, rather than "new money" in the sense posh people use it, to look down on people whose families weren't rich in the 1800s), will be available to music venues, indie cinemas, heritage sites and the more obvious choices like galleries and museums.

The government also has guidance on the way for how these kinds of venues can start reopening for live performances now that Everything Is Officially Fine Because We Said So. [BBC]