U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will pledge a total of £408.8 million ($567 million) to the beleaguered England arts sector in the upcoming annual budget on Wednesday.
In July 2020, the U.K. government had announced a £1.57 billion ($1.9 billion) lifeline support package, the Culture Recovery Fund, for the sector, which has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, as the U.K. is poised to begin easing lockdown, the Chancellor will add a further £300 million ($416 million) to the Culture Recovery Fund. In addition, £90 million ($125 million) is expected to be granted to national museums and cultural bodies and a further £18.8 million ($26 million) towards community cultural projects.
While these measures are for England, £77 million ($107 million) is expected to be granted to the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for disbursing to local cultural groups.
The measures will provide some relief for the sector as many venues have not reopened after being shuttered in March 2020.
“Throughout the crisis we have done everything we can to support our world-renowned arts and cultural industries, and it’s only right that we continue to build on our historic package of support for the sector,” Sunak said. “This industry is a significant driver of economic activity, employing more than 700,000 people in jobs across the U.K., and I am committed to ensuring the arts are equipped to captivate audiences in the months and years to come.”
According to the current reopening timeline, the earliest that arts venues such as theaters and cinemas can reopen is May 17.
The Chancellor is also expected to announce a £300 million ($416 million) sports package, as audiences for live games are gradually allowed back into stadiums over the summer.