Art & Culture sector needs government support now more than ever

Saturday 13th March 2021 04:22 EST

Several MPs have pressed upon the urgency for the Government to act in time and provide funding to arts and culture bodies before they breathe their last. The Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) committee had announced a £1.57 billion fund to help the cultural, arts and heritage institutions survive during Covid-19 last year in summer. The National Audit Office report said that the £1 billion that was made available, some £830 million in grants and loans were awarded to different organisations, but only £495 million of that has been paid out. The department had then assumed that in the worst-case scenario, social distancing would remain until the end of March 2021 and that demand for the likes of theatre tickets and venue capacity would remain at 40% of pre-Covid-19 levels. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Meg Hillier MP, chairwoman of the Committee of Public Accounts said, “The culture, arts and heritage sector has been one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic with many organisations now having been closed for nearly a year. “Many across the sector will have welcomed the funding announced last summer. But eight months later, more than half of the £1 billion made available so far is still waiting in the wings. With the sector’s shutdown already past Government’s worst-case scenario, DCMS needs to get support out to organisations while there are still organisations left to support.” Institutions in the sector had to shut down due to the lockdown and remained closed for almost an entire year. The funding was sufficient to keep them going only until September 2020. The Department has not yet paid out any funding from its second phase of funding, totalling £400 million, consisting of funding not awarded in the first funding phase plus £258 million that it held back as contingency. London has received 31% of total revenue grant funding, followed by the North West and South East which each received 12%.

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