Local arts, music and theatre organisations are bidding this month for a second round of awards to be offered under the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

The formal deadline for submission of applications to the Arts Council, who are administering the fund for the DCMS (Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), is 12 noon next Tuesday 26th January. However, applicant profiles are required to be ‘validated’ by the Arts Council by 12 noon this Thursday (21st January), after which validation is not guaranteed.

The stated aim of this round is to enable cultural organisations to “transition back to a viable and sustainable operating model during April-June 2021.”

When the first round sums were being bid for in August, it was clearly anticipated that social distancing and hygiene requirements would continue over the winter months, and that venues would be running at substantially reduced capacity with the need to modify their operations to take these into account. What was not foreseen was the second and/or third wave of viral infections, and the increasingly restrictive tier systems, followed by renewed lockdowns, which forced all live venues to close their doors again from early November onwards.

Similarly, the guidance for the second round seems to have assumed that during the first quarter of this year capacity restraints would have been relaxed, even though other mitigations such as mask-wearing might still be in place. That looks rather over-optimistic two months later, with the whole nation back in virtually full lockdown and no clear end date in sight.

It will be interesting to learn in due course not only who will benefit and in what amounts from this second round,  but whether, and how, the first round payments are in fact being spent.


Round One: A Re-Cap

Back in October, monetary awards totalling £257 million were allocated nationwide by the Arts Council from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund to cultural organisations such as concert halls, museums, galleries, music venues, etc. The stated aim was to enable those that had been financially stable before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic but were at imminent risk of failure to “recover from” or simply “survive” it. The money allocated was required to be spent by the end of March this year.

Local beneficiaries included the De La Warr Pavilion (over £657,000 offered), the White Rock Theatre (£239,000), The Piper music venue (£237,000) and the Hastings Contemporary (£230,000).


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