Arts and Culture organizations in the United Kingdom pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic will receive government aid, announced Sunday. The British government is building a rescue package worth a reported £1.57 billion aimed at supporting the sector, which faces a near-complete shutdown for the time being as large-scale gatherings are halted.
Touted as the “biggest-ever one-off investment in UK culture,” the aid will come in the form of emergency grants and loans extended to a variety of businesses. The package includes:
- A £1.15bn “support pot” for cultural organisations in England, delivered through a mix of grants (£880 million) and loans (£270 million)
- £100m of targeted support for ‘national cultural institutions’ in England, such as galleries and museums, and the English Heritage Trust
- £120m capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and construction projects in England which were paused due to Covid-19
Institutions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will also receive funding from the government, totaling £33 million, £97 million and £59 million, respectively.
The announcement followed a massive campaign on social media by artists and organizations in the UK to #LetTheMusicPlay – asking government to throw its financial support behind impacted organizations, which otherwise may not survive the halt on live events.
“I said we would not let the arts down,” says culture secretary Oliver Dowden, to whom the campaign was directed and who described such organizations as the “soul of our nation.”
Organizations set to receive aid through the funding expressed their happiness at the news, though guarded due to the vague understanding of how it will function in practice, and how far the funding will go when spread across an entire industry gasping for air.
“At long last the government have woken up to our warnings and those of the whole creative sector, that without support, we stood to lose a huge amount of our world-beating creative industries,” says Philippa Childs, head of the Bectu union. “We will now be scrutinizing the details of this package to make sure it lives up to the real needs of our sector.”