The British government has announced an unprecedented £1.57BN ($2BN) rescue package for the country’s arts and culture venues, including independent cinemas and theatres.
The lifeline comes amid growing panic that iconic British venues — such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Dalston’s independent Rio Cinema — could go bust after their finances have been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
The government said thousands of organizations will be able to access emergency grants and loans in what ministers are describing as the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture.
Decisions on grants will be made with the support of bodies including the British Film Institute and Arts Council England. Some of the money will also be put towards capital investment projects paused by the pandemic.
UK 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.”
BFI CEO Ben Roberts was among those who welcomed the news. “This is very welcome news for our independent cinemas, who play a vital cultural role across the country. Today’s announcement will help many of them to reopen soon and safely for audiences and staff, and bring communities and film lovers together again,” he said.
James Graham, the writer of ITV/AMC drama Quiz and a prominent advocate for UK theatre added: “I am so incredibly grateful that the government has listened to the outpouring of not only concerns but also of great passion from audiences and artists over the threat to a much-loved part of our national life.
“In normal times, we are a profitable and world-beating industry, and we can be again. The scale and the ambition of this package is incredibly welcome and I have to say a huge relief to the hundreds of thousands of skilled workers (not to mention millions of audience members) who want to be able to get British culture back up and thriving as soon as it is safe to do so.”
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