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U.K. GOVT. OKS £1.57B ARTS RESCUE PACKAGE 

After much lobbying, the British live music industry has been handed somewhat of a life raft by the U.K. Government in the form of a £1.57b rescue package to help cultural and heritage organizations weather the challenges brought about by the coronavirus crisis.

The funding will offer emergency grants and loans to Britain’s music venues and theaters as well as museums, galleries, independent cinemas and heritage sites. Funding will also be provided to restart construction work at cultural and heritage sites paused as a result of the pandemic. There's no clarification yet on whether any cash will be allocated to the festival sector. 

The money represents the biggest ever one-off investment in U.K. culture. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From iconic theater and musicals, mesmerizing exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the U.K.’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country. 

“This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the U.K. can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.”

Welcoming the announcement, Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI BRIT Awards, said, “We are delighted that the Government has recognized the special importance of the arts and creativity—including music—to our national life. We warmly welcome specific mention of our cherished music venues, and to support for the arts, which should also assist our classical music sector. 

“The live music industry, and the artist community that it supports, has felt the full, devastating force of the Covid-19 emergency and grassroots venues urgently require support if the U.K. is to retain its exceptional local music scene and continue to produce world-beating artists. We look forward to further discussing how the funds will be allocated.” 

Music Managers Forum CEO Annabella Coldrick welcomed the news but urged for further clarification on how the funds might be allocated. "After months of discussions, meetings and advocacy, culminating in the Let The Music Play campaign last Thursday, it feels that Government has accepted the importance of art and culture to our society and economy," she said. "Obviously £1.57b is a substantial sum of money, but we still need to see the full details of this package and how it will be allocated to reach those most in need. It is absolutely essential that funding stretches beyond cultural institutions and can equally benefit artists and their teams around the U.K., many of whom have fallen through gaps in support despite seeing a complete collapse in their live income."

UK Music Acting CEO Tom Kiehl said, “A £1.57b support package for the arts is a huge step forward and should be a lifesaver for many music venues.  Eligibility for grants and loans must be as broad as possible to ensure maximum take-up from across the industry from those in desperate need of help. Those that don’t have a track record of public funding must also not be put at a disadvantage. We are seeking urgent talks with Arts Council England to discuss further.”

The package includes a £1.15b support pot for cultural organizations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270m of repayable finance and £880m grants. There’s £100m of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust, and £120m 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 £188m for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33m), Scotland (£97m) and Wales (£59m).

Decisions on awards will be made alongside independent figures from the sector, including the Arts Council England. 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.

 

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