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Government pledges £1.57bn to save music venues and arts sector

Rescue package announced following weeks of pressure from UK arts and culture sector

David Blake

Date published: 6th Jul 2020

Following weeks of pressure from UK artists, institutions and audiences, late on Sunday night the Government announced a £1.57 billion rescue package to save the nation’s music, arts and culture venues, which have been devastated by the Coronavirus crisis.

The government said the support package "represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture" with music venues, theatres, museums, galleries and independent cinemas able to access emergency grants and loans.

The move comes days after the launch of the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign and an open letter, signed by over 1500 artists including Sir Paul McCartney, Dua Lipa and Skepta, calling on prime minister Boris Johnson and culture secretary Oliver Dowden to take urgent action to prevent the collapse of the live sector.

Reacting to the news, UK Music CEO Tom Kiehl said: “A £1.57bn support package for the arts is a huge step forward and should be a lifesaver for many music venues”, but warned that “eligibility for grants and loans must be as broad as possible to ensure maximum take up from across the industry from those in desperate need of help.”

The Government said decisions on who would receive funding will be made “working alongside expert independent figures from the sector” and that they are “finalising guidance for a phased return of the performing arts sectors”.

Welcoming the announcement, Mark Davyd of the Music Venue Trust, which has been campaigning to secure £50m from Government to protect grassroots music venues, said: “This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues and gives us the time we need to create a plan to safely reopen live music.”

Posting to Twitter, the culture secretary wrote: "I said I wouldn’t let the arts down. Culture and the arts matter, and this Govt backs you."

Main image: Daisy Denham/The Mill Birmingham