UK arts funding: Rishi Sunak unveils ‘world-beating’ programme – Who can claim grants?

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UK arts funding from Chancellor Rishi Sunak could save millions of jobs in the arts industry, as industry leaders fear long-lasting damage from COVID-19. Mr Sunak unveiled the new £1.57 billion support package via Twitter today, which unleashes both emergency grants and loans for struggling arts venues. People across the industry can claim them for their business if their jobs have suffered due to the UK lockdown.

Which arts venues can claim emergency grants?

Performers, artists and heritage sites across the UK were deprived of income this year as the country went into lockdown.

New social distancing measures meant packed venues were no longer an option, and the arts industry has suffered immeasurable damage from the necessary policy.

Although some aspects of the country have reopened – including the hospitality industry on Saturday – arts venues remain closed due to the remaining coronavirus measures.


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Rishi Sunak’s rescue package allows the following venues and more to claim an emergency grant to keep them afloat:

  • Theatres
  • Galleries
  • Museums
  • Cinemas
  • Heritage sites
  • Music venues
  • Other cultural venues

The latest announcement was welcomed by arts leaders and ministers alike, amongst them Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary who has long received pleas for vital arts funding.

However, there is much to extract from the new announcement, with further detail needed about how the Government will distribute the funds.

Analysing the new policy for the BBC, the broadcaster’s arts editor Will Gompertz said there would be “winners and losers”.

He wrote: “The Government has not specified how the money will be divided between competing art forms or regions, nor how the application process will work. There will be winners and losers.”

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While the latest grant will come as a vital lifeline for the arts, many industry leaders will desperately hope for a return to their jobs.

The latest changes to the coronavirus advisory mean museums and galleries could open at their discretion from July 4, but there is no indication as to when other venues will follow.

So far, the National Gallery is among those poised to reopen following the date, while others expect to remain closed for longer.

Tate director Maria Balshaw spoke to Art Newspaper about the challenges facing her galleries.

She said: “We are working from a visitor safety perspective and planning for 30 percent of normal visitor numbers.

“We have come to that from two directions. That represents the number of visitors we can safely accommodate, with two-metre social distancing.

“We also think that this is a reasonable estimate of likely demand.

“But I feel that demand might be higher because during the closure through social media and digital content we have seen an incredible enthusiasm and love for our museums and what we show inside them.”

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