588 more arts organisations saved by £76 million in latest Culture Recovery Fund grants

£850,000 will enable Somerset House to reboot its sustainable business model, adapt its creative spaces for social distancing, and restart its Creative Careers Programme as well as develop a limited cultural programme. Photo credit: Somerset House

Comedy clubs, circuses, festivals, regional theatres and local museums are among 588 arts and cultural organisations receiving a share of more than £76 million in essential support, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back. Through Arts Council England we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time. Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations.

These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country.

This funding will provide a lifeline for organisations and venues engaging local communities with culture across England. It will protect nationally and internationally renowned organisations like the Military Wives Choir, the Kneehigh Theatre in Cornwall, the Comedy Store venues in Manchester and London and the Hepworth Wakefield’s collection of modern British art. The West End’s longest running play, The Mousetrap, will also receive a grant of £228,973 to help restart performances to socially distanced audiences.

Melanie Nightingale, Director, Military Wives Choirs, said:

We are incredibly grateful to have been awarded part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. This much-needed support enables the Military Wives Choirs to continue in our mission of increasing wellbeing through singing, to our inclusive network of over 2,000 women across the military community and audiences across the country and abroad. We are thrilled that this funding enables our 73 choirs to sing, share and support one another and feel stronger together through music.

A wide range of art forms will benefit from these awards including operating circuses and training for future performers. Zippos Circus, one of the oldest circuses still running in the UK, will receive £628,986 to continue with covid-secure performances across the country and the National Centre for Circus Arts will be able to safely provide workshops and classes for artists and young people thanks to a grant of £466,000.

Kate White, CEO, National Centre for Circus Arts said:

The National Centre for Circus Arts is thrilled to have been successful in our application to the Cultural Recovery Fund. The grant is a real lifeline and will allow us to offer support to many circus artists, who as freelancers have been without work and income for many months now. As we have reopened our building we are able to subsidise fees for professionals as they ease back into training and creation.

We will further develop our support for teachers as we create new and innovative ways of teaching and creating circus in a COVID safe way. The investment from DCMS and ACE will enable us to adapt our business model, testing new ways of working, to achieve long term financial viability.

Funding is also going to festivals across the country from grassroots arts festival BlackFest based in Liverpool, which is receiving £50,000 to trial socially distanced events, to Shangri-La Glastonbury, the contemporary art producers behind one of the iconic festival’s most legendary stages where some of the world’s biggest artists including Lady Gaga and Madonna have performed, which is being awarded £61,059 to develop a new digital art and music event platform and continue work with emerging artists.

There are also grants for grassroot music venues like Night and Day in Manchester whose support for local unsigned artists has launched major careers for well-known acts like Elbow.

Comedy venues and festivals from Liverpool to London are also benefiting from this tranche of grants. The internationally renowned Leicester Comedy Festival is the longest running and largest comedy festival of its kind in Europe and a grant of £105,000 will allow planning to continue for next year’s festival. Liverpool’s only purpose built comedy club, The Hot Water Comedy Club, is receiving a £450,000 grant from the Culture Recovery Fund to cover fixed costs for the comedy club and the additional measures needed to make the venue Covid-safe for performances. The Comedy Store, the largest employer of professional comedy performers in the UK and one of Europe’s most significant comedy institutions, will receive £964,252 to retain staff in both city locations and deliver an exciting programme that will provide fees for more than 250 freelancers.

Don Ward, founder and CEO, The Comedy Store, said:

Over 41 years have passed since I opened the very first alternative comedy venue in London, after 20 years I added a second venue in Manchester. Comedy is now rightly recognised as an art form and I am so proud to be known as the Godfather. I was devastated last March when we had to close both venues due to the Coronavirus and all the relative problems it brought to the understandably enforced closure. The investment will ensure that we will be back to entertain live audiences as soon as it is safe to do so, protecting livelihoods and the artform of comedy itself.

Today’s funding will help allow socially distanced performances to restart where safe to do so, venues to plan for reopening, protect jobs and create opportunities for freelancers. It follows £257 million in grants awarded to a range of arts organisations and cultural venues on Monday October 12 by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Organisations have been awarded grants under £1 million in the first two rounds of funding this week. Darlington Hippodrome in County Durham is receiving the largest grant of £1 million to run a programme of engagement activities including youth theatre courses, adult dance classes and community events ranging from themed tours of the theatre to art classes for local people.

Further details of grant awards of up to £3 million and £270 million in repayable cultural finance will follow in the coming days and weeks.

Other organisations that will be receiving funding include:

  • Kneehigh Theatre, Cornwall – £249,833 will enable Kneehigh to reopen in December and deliver safe, accessible, outdoor artistic experiences including a walk-through exhibition and performances by firelight.

Kneehigh is an award-winning international touring theatre company, based in Cornwall and celebrated across the UK. They have been active during lockdown and created new walks on their free storytelling app Walk With Me. Alumni include Dawn French, who recorded a number of stories for the company, and former Artistic Director Emma Rice who went on to work at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, before starting her own new company Wise Children in 2018.

  • Whitby Gothic Festival, North Yorkshire – £55,000 will provide Whitby Gothic Festival financial stability it needs to grow the internationally renowned festival in 2021 and to support its digital strategy for the Autumn.

The biannual Gothic Festival has been a pilgrimage for fans of Bram Stoker’s famous novel, Dracula, for over 25 years and has also attracted visitors due to the architectural and cultural heritage of the town. The festival is of huge economic importance to Whitby as it provides a huge influx of visitors for two off-peak weeks of the year and raises the profile of the town to bring additional tourists year-round.

  • Night and Day, Manchester – £64,745 will enable Night and Day to host local socially distanced showcases from December until it can host the live music events for which it is best known.

Night and Day is Manchester’s most renowned grassroots live music venue which has hosted tens of thousands of bands and musicians over nearly 30 years contributing directly to the local economy and culture. It provides a platform for local unsigned artists and hosts end of year shows for music schools such as the Royal Northern College of Music. Bands who have performed include Elbow, Kasabian, Jessie J, Arctic Monkeys and Manic Street Preachers.

  • Military Wives Choir, London – £92,057 will ensure the continuation of the central charity team which supports choirs across the country, helping them to find and fund rehearsal venues, pay musical directors, deliver weekly rehearsals and continue to offer safe spaces for over 2,000 women.

The Military Wives Choir rose to fame through the BBC documentary series with Gareth Malone and was recently the subject of a film starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan. It creates cultural opportunities across the UK, often in very remote areas where there is limited access. It is run by, for and with women in the military community, often giving voice to overlooked talented creative practitioners.

  • Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Yorkshire – £50,000 will go towards producing a 3-day event across what would have been the opening weekend of this year’s festival. The programme will include 3 live broadcasts, 2 socially distanced installations, 8 new commissions, and a small number of live performances for a limited audience. The grant will also increase its Learning and Participation provision from Autumn 2020 – March 2021, to ensure that it is serving and creating opportunities for the local community.

The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is one of the UK’s foremost festivals dedicated to contemporary and experimental music and is recognised worldwide as for the quality and innovation of its artistic programme and high production values.

  • Walk the Plank, Salford – £170,268 will allow Walk the Plank to continue working with clients on socially distanced outdoor arts solutions for events as well as adapting its training programme to include new learning resources.

Walk the Plank are highly regarded outdoor arts specialists and innovators working in public spaces. Producing civic and community-led celebrations fusing performance, puppetry, choreography with spectacular making, fire, music and sfx, Walk the Plank has a track record of excellence in environmental sustainability and support for its freelance workforce.

  • Solfest, Cumbria – £100,000 will be used to salvage events from the cancelled 2020 programme due to take place in August to take place throughout the winter. It will also enable planning for Solfest 2021.

Solfest is Cumbria’s longest running outdoor music festival offering a range of different stages on a single event, offering world music, traditional folk, reggae, dance and traditional Cumbrian arts.

  • Circus Berlin, Gateshead – £423,000 will help fund performances with socially distanced audiences to continue through the months ahead.

Circus Berlin has offered a culturally diverse and modern take on traditional circus for 30 years and mixes a variety of facts from different cultures.

  • ZoieLogic Dance Theatre, Southampton – £50,544 will enable ZoieLogic to deliver outdoor dance events designed for social distancing, which will be initially taught online before a live Covid-secure event.

ZoieLogic Dance Theatre is recognised as a national leader in the development of boys and male dance and a centre of excellence for youth and community engagement through training practitioners, creating job opportunities and providing mentoring.

  • Create Studios, Swindon – £195,222 will enable Create Studios to purchase a mobile unit for crucial outreach work across the country that will enable young people to participate in digital and creative activities without having to travel.

Create Studios are a film and digital media community interest company and social enterprise based in Swindon which supports local talent development with ground-breaking mentorship and training programmes that give young creative people from diverse backgrounds the skills to equip themselves for the creative industries. Create supported the first film of David Yates, who went on to direct many of the Harry Potter films and the Fantastic Beasts series.

  • Somerset House, Westminster, London – £850,000 will enable Somerset House to reboot its sustainable business model, adapt its creative spaces for social distancing, and restart its Creative Careers Programme as well as develop a limited cultural programme.

Somerset House is a working arts centre & home to the UK’s largest creative community, including 20 National Portfolio Organisations and Makerversity, which supports professional makers. Each year it welcomes 3 million visitors to its historic site which has been used for many major film and TV shoots including Suffragette, The Duchess, Love Actually and Mary Poppins Returns and has also hosted London Design Week.

  • Paraorchestra, Bristol – £156,000 will enable Paraorchestra to develop small-scale work adhering to social distancing guidelines, adapt their indoor immersive work for outdoor settings and produce hybrid performances to allow musicians still shielding to perform.

Paraorchestra is the world’s only large-scale integrated virtuoso ensemble of professional disabled and non-disabled musicians offering a new model of inclusive orchestral practice and an approach to providing a representative platform for disabled musicians to work at the highest level. They are the only orchestra to headline a stage at Glastonbury Festival.

*The Puppet Theatre Barge, London – £52,352 will be used to support a staged reopening, starting with digital productions and live streaming and moving towards regular live performances.

The Puppet Theatre Barge has been putting on a programme of unique puppet shows on a converted 72ft-long Thames barge for over thirty years and is one of the only venues specialising in using string marionettes.

  • The Hepworth Wakefield Trust, Wakefield, Yorkshire – £146,726 will support The Hepworth Wakefield to present a free exhibition drawn from its own extensive collection.

The Hepworth Wakefield is home to Wakefield’s art collection – an impressive compendium of modern British art, including works by Ben Nicholson, Patrick Heron, L.S. Lowry, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore as well as work by significant contemporary artists such as Frank Auerbach, Maggi Hambling, Anthea Hamilton, Martin Parr and Eva Rothschild.

  • Chiltern Open Air Museum, Buckinghamshire – £219,008 will secure the future of the museum’s collection and enable it to remain open.

Chiltern Open Air Museum rescues threatened historic buildings which would otherwise be demolished, including Turdor barns and a Victorian toll house, and rebuilds and preserves them in a traditional Chilterns landscape. The Museum has been a filming location for Call the Midwife, Horrible Histories, Downton Abbey, Midsommer Murders, Boomers, Grantchester, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Drunk Histories, Mandown, Lightfields and many more.

  • Hofesh Shechter Company, Brighton – £250,000 will enable Hofesh Shechter Company to run a reduced programme, including completion of an exciting new commission that will premiere in March 21, as well as development of a digital learning programme for schools.

Hofesh Shechter Company is recognised internationally as a boundary-breaking dance company founded by Israeli choreographer, dancer and composer Hofesh Shechter who was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Choreography in 2016 for his work on Bartlett Sher’s revival of Fiddler on the Roof.

  • Britten Sinfonia, Cambridge – £197,810 will enable Britten Sinfonia to run a range of activities, including a programme of 90 socially distanced and accessible concerts and learning events across remote and rural areas in the East of England.

Britten Sinfonia is a flexible ensemble with an established national and international reputation with strong roots in the East of England and artistic residencies in Cambridge, Norwich, Saffron Walden alongside London’s Barbicans. It is one of only seven non-BBC orchestras to make a Proms appearance.

  • Kings Place, Islington, London – £562,000 will support Kings Place to offer hour-long, socially-distanced performances plus low cost family events, talks and local walks.

Kings Place is an arts centre with a critically-acclaimed programme of national importance, known for its innovative formats for music and spoken word and championing new music through regular commissions, the Luminate series and Cryptic’s Sonica Festival.

  • Berkshire Maestros, Reading – £783,746 will ensure Berkshire Maestros can continue to deliver music lessons and projects for as many young people as possible across the county through a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching.

Berkshire Maestros is the longest standing independent music trust in the UK since it began in 1982 and has hosted a concert of its students in the Royal Albert Hall.

  • Vindolanda Trust, Hexham – £250,000 will enable Vindolanda Trust to open its significant historical Hadrian’s Wall sites during the traditionally low-income October to March ‘shoulder’ season.

The Trust owns and administers two significant Hadrian’s Wall Sites, one at Vindolanda, now regarded one of the most important Roman sites in Britain, and the other at Roman Magna/Carvoran which awaits excavation.

  • Future DJs, Knutsford – £175,000 will enable Future DJs to build on its existing work with schools and introduce virtual classrooms to work with music teachers to build in-school remote teaching programmes and run artist masterclasses.

Future DJs provide digital music education for children and young people across Cheshire and work with artists such as Goldie MBE and double Ivor Novello nominee, Ghetts.

  • Nottingham Museums – £180,000 to help reopen Wollaton Hall, an Elizabethan mansion, and stabilise the future of the group which looks after seven unique sites of historical importance in the area. They will also continue working on a two-year exhibition planned for Wollaton Hall Natural History Museum, featuring a 65 million year-old T.rex.

The exhibition, planned for 2021, will be the first time in more than 100 years that a T.rex has been exhibited in England.

  • Moseley Folk and Arts Festival, Birmingham – £50,000 will help the organisers prepare for the festival in 2021.

Acts performing at the festival in previous years include Don McLean, Laura Marling, Jethro Tull, The Monkees, Jose Gonzalez, Amy Macdonald, Tinariwen, Songhoy Blues and Ocean Colour Scene.

  • The British Motor Museum, Warwick – £707,000 will protect the world’s most extensive collection of historic British cars and associated artefacts. The archive showcases the motor industry in Britain, from its inception to the present day.
  • Leicester Comedy Festival – £105,000 will stabilise this internationally renowned festival and allow the organisers to plan a programme of events for 2021.

Leicester Comedy Festival is the longest running, largest festival of its kind in Europe which has featured top stand-up names such as Jo Brand, Jack Dee, Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle, Russell Brand, The Mighty Boosh, Dara O’ Briain, Simon Pegg, Lee Mack, Dave Spikey and Harry Hill.

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said:

Culture is an essential part of life across the country, helping to support people’s wellbeing through creativity and self-expression, bringing communities together, and fuelling our world class creative industries. This latest set of awards from the Culture Recovery Fund builds on those announced recently and will help hundreds of organisations to survive the next few months, ensuring that the cultural sector can bounce back after the crisis. We will continue doing everything we can to support artists and cultural and creative organisations, with further funding to be announced in the coming weeks.

Neil Mendoza, Government Commissioner for Culture Recovery and Renewal, said:

We are at a serious moment for the economy and jobs, but especially for the cultural sector. Culture provides a life-enhancing force. It contributes to our national good in so many ways, from well-being to economic growth, in every single part of the country.

Today’s funding announcement covers a range of performing arts and museums right across the country from Hadrian’s Wall to Truro. Arts Council England have worked hard to judge applications carefully ensuring that the Fund can release grants quickly while protecting taxpayers money. We are here for culture.

All four nations are benefiting from the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, with Scotland receiving £97 million, Wales receiving £59 million and Northern Ireland receiving £33 million. This funding will enable them to increase the support already available to the arts and cultural sectors in each nation if they wish to.

The Culture Recovery Fund builds on more than £200 billion of support through the Job Retention Scheme; more than £13.5 billion through the Self Employed Income Support Scheme; and a hundred billion pounds of tax cuts, tax deferral, direct grants and government backed loans.

This is in addition to £104 million of emergency funding already distributed by Arts Council England to organisations and individuals, and £96 million currently available to support the arts and freelancers, through programmes like National Lottery Project Grants and Developing Your Creative Practice.


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