Some of Leeds’ favourite venues including Old Red Bus Station, Brudenell Social Club and the Leeds Library have received vital funding to stay open as part of the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.
The scheme, a joint venture between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Arts Council England, offers financial support to cultural organisations that were stable before the Covid-19 pandemic, but are now at the risk of falling by the wayside.
In a post on their Facebook page on Saturday the team from the Old Red Bus Station said: “We’ve had to wait a few more days than most to announce this, but we are absolutely over the moon and very shocked to announce we have been successful in our application for the cultural recovery fund!”
They went on to confirm that the grant would mean “for certain” the music venue was going “absolutely nowhere”.
The Cultural Recovery Fund comes after months of campaigning by individuals and businesses in the cultural sector who have been deeply impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
In July BECTU (the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union) who represent over 40,000 members, issued a dire warning to the UK Government.
Head of BECTU Phillipa Childs highlighted “a perfect storm” taking place across the theatre industry “which is only set to turn into a tsunami as each day passes without government intervention”.
The constant campaigning lead to the Government announcing a £1.57 billion support package in July to protect Britain’s “world class cultural, arts and heritage institutions”.
Many, however, are sceptical and believe that the funding is too little too late.
Nuffield Southampton Theatre announced in July that it would permanently close, with the joint administrator explaining in July that “[i]f this package had come out four weeks ago things might have been different”.
Others have highlighted the bureaucracy and complications surrounding access to the scheme. Speaking to the Guardian last Friday, Simon Lowe, the Director of The Panto Bus in Banbury highlighted how it was a “confusing process to apply. There’s no way of ascertaining exactly what they want – you had to sort of stick a finger in the air and hope you were catching the wind in the right direction.”
Even those successful in their application have recognised these downfalls. Wharf Chambers, another successful Leeds venue, posted on their twitter concern around how they were “unable to meet the requirements”, before being successful in their application.
In spite of the confusion and criticism by some, the Government are insistent the scheme has been a success. Boasting of the 1,385 Arts Venues and Cultural organisations across England that have benefited from the scheme so far.
In a statement Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said “The government is here for culture and we have worked around the clock to get this record investment out to the frontline.”
“It will allow our wonderful theatres, museums, music venues and cultural organisations to survive this crisis and start putting on performances again – protecting jobs and creating new work for freelancers.”
With more funding still to be announced, and no clear end date to social distancing measures, the success or failure of the scheme remains to be seen.
Image Credit: Old Red Bus Station