£1.5 billion pledged to rescue museums, galleries and theatres

0507 Theatres £1.5 billion PA
The Government has announced a rescue package. Credit: PA

After campaigning that has intensified over the past few weeks, the Government has announced a £1.57 billion rescue package for culture, arts and heritage organisations in Britain, including theatres, independent cinemas, museums and the live music sector.

With warnings that without more government support, around 70% of theatres were facing closure by Christmas, the package includes a mixture of loans and grants and is been billed as the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture.

In a statement, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations… I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment”.

While the funding is aimed at keeping organisations afloat, the government says it is continuing to work on guidance for a phased return of the performing arts sector.

Meanwhile with the details yet to come on how the funds will be shared out, the boss of one theatre which is facing possible redundancies of more than 100, said he hoped regional cities would also be recognised.

Stephen Crocker from the Theatre Royal Norwich, said while he was hugely grateful to the government, theatres still need a detailed reopening plan for their long-term survival.  

The announcement has been welcomed by the Chair of the Arts Council Sir Nicholas Serota, who in a statement described the funding as a very significant investment by the government in the future of arts and culture in this country.

Bosses at the Royal Shakespeare Company said they were “pleased and relieved” at the news of the funding.

Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber said the "news is truly welcome at a time when so many theatres, orchestras, entertainment venues and other arts organisations face such a bleak future".

Will this save theatres and music venues from closing? Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt has more