'This gives us a fighting chance': Cambridge theatre given lifeline after receiving latest government arts grant

Cambridge Arts Theatre Credit: ITV News Anglia

Hundreds of arts venues in the East have been given a lifeline thanks to millions of pounds of government culture recovery fund grants.

The fund has been set up by the Government to support arts organisations who have been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cambridge Arts Theatre is one of them.

The theatre is one of hundreds of venues to be awarded a grant Credit: ITV News Anglia

The 8-story historic building has been closed since the 17th of March. The venue's also lost sixteen travelling shows.

It's been awarded £985,000 and the Chief Executive says the money will finally give them a fighting chance at getting back up and running.

It's an absolute lifeline, I mean we're incredibly relieved because without it I don't know what we'd have done. I feel like i've been holding my breath since mid-march and suddenly I can breath again. And I'm so glad that we might be able to save this theatre for Cambridgeshire and all our customers. This just gives us a fighting chance, before this we didn't have it.

Dave Murphy, Chief Executive, Cambridge Arts Theatre Trust
Dave Murphy, Chief Executive, Cambridge Arts Theatre Trust Credit: ITV News Anglia

Mr Murphy said it's also however a bittersweet moment:

"Obviously I feel a bit sad as well, it's a bit of a bittersweet moment. We've lost nearly two thirds of our staff and all of the wonderful people who help us- the wonderful creatives, actors, technical crew, they're all out of a job. I'm really worried about a lot of them and this grant won't help them until we get going again. But I do feel incredibly grateful to the government. They've actually realised that culture's an important part of this country's DNA."

This the second round of government recovery grants for arts venues Credit: ITV News Anglia

The funding builds on the first round of grants awarded by the government which saw 103 theatres, museums and cultural organisations across the East of England given a share of £18,431,353.

Read more: Funding life-line for theatres in the east in first round of government support

In Northamptonshire, £186,025 was handed out this time to help save two creative organisations facing the challenges of the pandemic:

  • Acme Audio received £62,025

The company provides technical support to a wide range of events, including live music concerts, fashion shows and performances as well as community events.

This funding will enable the business to continue trading, supplying funds to retain staff and cover ongoing business overheads. In addition, it will also be used for staff training to enable the company to increase its skillset and its resilience.

Acme Audio spokesperson
Credit: Belinda King Creative Productions
  • Belinda King Creative Productions received £125,000

The arts organisation brings productions to leisure and corporate events, including casting, choreography, costume design and music production. They work with  choreographers, artists, dancers, singers and theatre support teams from across the country.

This funding will help cover overheads and achieve financial stability during this dormant period, in order to be able to resume operations when clients return to service.

Belinda King Creative Productions Spokesperspn

In Cambridge, the Britten Sinfonia received £197,810. This will enable them to run a range of activities, including a programme of 90 socially distanced and accessible concert and learning events across remote and rural areas in the East of England.

This award helps us to bring our audiences and our musicians back together again in the way that we, and they, have all longed for – sharing the experience of live, world class music with each other.

Meurig Bowen, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Britten Sinfonia
Westacre Theatre, Norfolk

Westacre theatre in Norfolk also received a large sum of £156,000. The venue is situated in rural West Norfolk. They say the money will enable the them to spend the next six months preparing a significant package of events and productions ready for the theatre’s re-launch as soon as Covid 19 restrictions are lifted.

This is fantastic news and a huge credit to all the work West Acre has done historically and a wonderful endorsement of our future plans. Needless to say it is also a massive boost to our efforts to survive these turbulent times and carve a sustainable and exciting future.

Matt Grist, Chairman of the Westacre Theatre's management board

Some of the other successful venues/organisations include:

  • The Comedy Store Ltd, Saffron Walden - £964k

  • Peterborough City Council - £493k

  • Pelle Pub Co - Cambridge £307k

  • Pearce Sound & Lighting, Peterborough - £450k

  • Nicholas Garrod, Waveney - £250k

  • MK Arts Centre - £50k

  • Marina Theatre, Lowestoft - £309k

  • Regent Theatre, Ipswich - £488k

  • High Tide Festival, Suffolk - £78k

  • Folk East, Suffolk - £80k

  • East Anglian Transport Museum, Lowestoft - £50k

  • Bungay Arts - £103k