Culture Recovery Fund Needs Extending, Say Ministers

A second Culture Recovery Fund is needed to keep the UK arts sector alive, the Government has been told.

The fund was created last year to alleviate some of the financial strain being felt by theatres, galleries, music venues and other cultural institutions due to the pandemic.

But the Commons Culture Select Committee has warned that the funding was not designed to last multiple lockdowns. With many venues unable to open before Easter, the available support may fall short of requirements.

Julian Knight, the committee’s Conservative chairman, told the Commons that “the Culture Recovery Fund was a great advent but it will only go so far and it was never intended to cover three lockdowns and potentially 18 months of disruption.”

Nigel Huddleston, the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, then told MPs that an additional £400 million held back from the initial funding will now be made available.

Arts Council England announced that it now has up to £250 million to award in grants of between £25,000 and £3 million each. These grants will safeguard against any further venue closures before COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The sector has also asked for the current 5% VAT on ticket sales to be maintained and not increased to 20% as it was before the pandemic.

Lucy Noble, Chair of the National Arenas Association, said: “The whole sector has been brought to its knees by the pandemic. Increasing VAT on tickets by 400 per cent at this time could be the final nail in the coffin [for the industry].”

Words by Emily Withers.

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