Government unveils £1.5bn rescue package for museums, galleries and theatres

Luke Jerram/NHM

The government has announced a £1.57 billion support package to protect Britain’s cultural, arts and heritage institutions, including museums, galleries and theatres.

The future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, historic palaces, heritage sites and music venues will be protected through emergency grants and loans.

“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,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“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.”

Lifeline for cultural venues hit hard by COVID-19

This marks the largest ever one-off investment in UK culture and will provide a lifeline to cultural and heritage organisations hit hard by the coronavirus crisis (via Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport).

It follows pressure from various industry leaders, who have warned that many cultural venues were on the brink of collapse.

“I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations,” said Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

“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.”

£1.57 billion support package includes:

  • £1.15 billion support pot for cultural organisations in England, delivered via grants and loans (£880m in grants and £270m of repayable loans)
  • £100 million of targeted support for national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust
  • £120 million capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England
  • An additional £188 million for devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million)

“This is welcome news for the museum sector”

“This is welcome news for the museum sector, both in the scale of funding and as a strategic commitment to our role in the life of the country,” said Sir Ian Blatchford, chair of the National Museums Directors Council.

Decisions on awards will be made alongside independent figures from the sector, including the Arts Council England, Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

In addition, the government is finalising guidance for a phased return of the performing arts sectors, which will be published soon.

Meanwhile, the National Museum Directors’ Council has released good practice guidelines to support UK museums and galleries as they begin to reopen from July 4.