Cultural venues big and small are set to benefit from a £15 million boost as part of the Government’s Cultural Development Fund, which continues to level up access to the arts across the country. 

Successful bidders will share a pot of £15.2 million as part of the fourth round of the popular scheme.

The funding will help create local job opportunities and new training places while supporting local cultural institutions as they look to attract tourists and new businesses, helping to grow the economy.

So far, 20 projects have received a combined total of £76.8 million since 2019, with arts centres, community venues and heritage buildings among the beneficiaries. Previous funding rounds are already making a real difference, with places like Barnsley, Worcester, Plymouth, Stockport and the Isle of Wight receiving transformative investment.  

This year’s round will be the first time since 2019 that projects in London are able to apply to the fund as well, expanding the range of places that can benefit from Cultural Development Fund investment.

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: 

I’ve been pleased to see how Government investment through the Cultural Development Fund is already making a real difference to people’s lives. The further funding announced today will extend our work to level up access to arts and culture, ensuring that everyone has high-quality opportunities on their doorstep, no matter where they live.   

I encourage applicants to put forward ambitious proposals which will make a real difference to the lives of even more people across the country, and help to preserve the UK’s position on the world stage as a cultural and creative powerhouse.

Previous projects include:

  • Plymouth City Council received £3.8 million from the Cultural Development Fund round one. As a result of the project, Market Hall at Devonport has become a destination for businesses, schools and many more looking to access the facilities or enjoy the immersive experiences, events, workshops and children’s clubs on offer. 
  • The University of Kent was awarded £4.8 million in round one for buildings in Medway, Purfleet and Thurrock to be re-developed for creative use by communities.
  • In round two, Barnsley Museums were awarded £3.9 million to transform Elsecar Heritage Centre into a cultural and creative industries hub by supporting additional community activity and culturally-focused public realm works.
  • Middlesbrough Council Cultural Services was awarded £4.3 million in round two to help deliver a package of construction projects, making Centre Square into a hub for creativity, and boosting digital skills. Events spaces and galleries will also be added to Carnegie Library and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art thanks to the fund.
  • £2.7 million awarded to Morecambe Winter Gardens in round three will regenerate a Grade II-listed site to create a venue with capacity of up to 2,500 to support local and national promoters and artists in North Lancashire and Cumbria. 
  • Also in round three, North Devon Council was awarded £3 million to refurbish two Grade II-Listed Buildings in Barnstaple, creating an accessible learning and performance venue in Bridge Chambers, and co-working, office and studio space for creative industries, visual arts, community and environmental groups. 

The Cultural Development Fund was launched in 2019 to level up the country through investment in culture and the creative industries. By unlocking local growth and productivity, the fund increases access to the arts and regenerates communities through investment in cultural initiatives.

Arts Council England delivers this fund on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Guidance has been published today to provide further information for those considering making an application.

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said:

The Cultural Development Fund brings the transformative power of creativity and culture to more people in more places, across the country. By investing in the infrastructure that cultural organisations need, we can help them make an even bigger impact on the places where they’re based, benefiting the communities they work with. We’re pleased to continue delivering it on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, building on the successes of the programme so far.

The Cultural Development Fund also builds on further support for the cultural sector through the other two strands of the Cultural Investment Fund; the Libraries Improvement Fund and the Museum Estate and Development Fund, which have also provided more than £50 million over two rounds.

From: Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay.

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