A £1.57bn emergency support package has been provided by the UK Government to help businesses affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The investment was announced on 5 July, and will help Britain’s globally renowned arts, culture and heritage industries weather some of the impacts of coronavirus.
Thousands of organisations such as performing arts groups and theatres, live music venues and independent cinemas will be able to access emergency grants and loans. There will be a £1.15 billion support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270 million of repayable finance and £880 million grants. The new funding will also mean an extra £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million).
This is the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture, and is welcome relief for organisations and groups which have been lobbying the government for support during this unprecedented global crisis.
The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’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 UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Our arts and culture are the soul of our nation. They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast-growing creative industries. I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations. Today we are announcing a huge support package of immediate funding to tackle the funding crisis they face. I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.”
Some of SAE’s expert staff have commented on the impact that these funds will have on the UK’s cultural sector.
SAE Glasgow Music Business lecturer John Markey said: “This government package to help support the arts during the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis is obviously very welcome. It is imperative that the government make sure that not only long-standing, traditional cultural institutions are protected but also popular music venues, promoters and ancillary staff can also access this money. In Scotland, the £97million will hopefully go towards protecting the incredibly vibrant and ever-growing music industry.”
SAE Liverpool MPP Coordinator and Audio/Music Business lecturer Mike McNeilis said: “These funds will allow a number of institutions to steady the ship in the short-term. A long-term investment plan should be established that gives confidence to all business owners that their establishments can weather this initial storm and re-energise the arts sector.”
The long-term impacts of coronavirus remain to be seen, but this cash injection into the cultural sector is certainly positive news for SAE students hoping to pursue careers as artists or filmmakers, or perhaps go on to work in the live events industry.
Find out more about some of the financial resources available to creative industry professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic here.