Major funding boost for arts venues hit by covid measures

By Barrie Hudson - 12 October 2020

Arts and CultureAttractions

Swindon arts and cultural venues are among 1,385 set to share £257m as part of  a financial boost from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. 

  • Violet McLaren and Darron Simons run The Vic, The Rolleston and Level 3

    Violet McLaren and Darron Simons run The Vic, The Rolleston and Level 3

The move was announced today - October 12 - by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Arts Council England.

Today’s recipients are those which applied for grants of under £1 million in the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund. 

In Swindon, a total of £327,000 will be divided between music venues Level 3, The Rolleston Arms and The Vic, while £242,844 will go to the Wyvern Theatre and £105,325 to Swindon Dance.

The three music venues are run by Violet McLaren and Darren Simons.

Darren said: "The Culture Recovery Fund is helping music venues at grass roots level to make it through the lockdown period and keep supporting our staff - as well as our musicians.

"With the restrictions in place it has put a limit on what sort of shows we can host.

"The 10pm curfew has been a nightmare - over 50 trade hours across The Rolleston, Level 3 and The Vic.

"We were very nervous before we had the news today because we thought there was a chance that we would not be able to survive for long after Christmas.

"This is an absolute lifeline. We can hold on to our staff and make plans for the future."

Darren added that the preservation of live music was vital because music was a key form of self-expression and essential for mental wellbeing."

Violet McLaren said: "I'm very relieved and very happy. It's saved everybody's jobs - we're secure for a while to come."

Swindon Theatres director Laura James said of the Wyvern funding: “We’re delighted to receive this funding which will play a vital role in supporting our venues through this very difficult period.

"The money provided today will help us to meet the costs of maintaining the buildings through the closure period; will stabilise our position at a time when no trading income is available to us; and will help to support our dedicated and skilled team.

"We are grateful that the DCMS has recognised the important contribution we make; and would also like to thank our local authority partners who have been helpful and supportive throughout.

"Like all cultural venues, we believe we have an important role to play in supporting the wider recovery.  The economic impact of our usual activities stretches far and wide; sustaining businesses across the local area.

"Crucially, this money is provided to assist us through to reopening when the situation improves – and we can’t wait to be able to welcome back our wonderful audiences when we are able to do so.”

In the South West, the Government says, the investment in the arts will help to save 172 theatres, galleries, performance groups, arts organisations, museums and music venues facing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. 

"It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery. 

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country - from the Beamish museum in County Durham to the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Bristol Old Vic. 

“This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Phil Gibby, South West Area Director at Arts Council England said: “The Arts Council have been hard at work administering this share of the Government’s £1.57 billion towards the cultural sector over the past few months during this challenging time for us all, so I am pleased that we are able to announce support for 172 much loved cultural organisations in the south west through this first round of funding today. 

"Arts and culture brings communities together and helps to enrich our lives - and this funding will help keep that alive, now and for generations to come – we are here for culture.”

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