The U.K. government is disbursing £400 million ($553 million) to 2,700 organizations affected by the Coronavirus crisis.
The distribution is part of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund that was announced last year to support the country’s beleaguered arts sector. With this disbursement, the Culture Recovery Fund has so far allocated more than £1.2 billion across over 5,000 individual cultural and heritage organizations and sites.
Beneficiaries of this round include Liverpool’s iconic Cavern Club where The Beatles came to prominence, which has been supported with £785,000 over two rounds. It was closed across several U.K. lockdowns and was losing £30,000 a week since March 2020.
Over £170 million in repayable finance has been offered to organizations including the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company. Grants worth almost £60 million have been awarded to help theaters reopen across the country. A further £6.5 million has been awarded by the British Film Institute (BFI) to independent cinemas.
Ben Roberts, BFI chief executive, said: “People have been missing the big screen experience and we know they are looking forward to cinemas being able to reopen from May 17 onwards. The Culture Recovery Fund has been a lifeline to survival for local independent cinemas up and down the country, ensuring that they will be able to welcome their audiences back. In bringing the latest films from blockbusters to British films and new discoveries from around the world as well as screen classics, the local ‘cinema paradiso’ is often the only form of culture and entertainment in their area and are vital to their communities. We need them back and thanks to the fund screens will soon light up once more.”
The cinema grants include £138,333 for the East Finchley’s Phoenix Cinema, Britain’s oldest cinema in continuous use where Oscar-winning actress Judi Dench is a patron.
“Local cinemas are a vital part of our cultural lives, enthralling us with films about lives that we recognize as well as offering us stories about other cultures from around the world,” Dench said. “They are places where people come together for a shared experience and have inspired many to make their careers on screen. We need to make sure that generations today and in the future have the same opportunities to enjoy and take part in the communal big screen experience.”
“Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organizations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced,” said U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden. “Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors, helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”