• Culture Commons

£165 million of loans distributed to cultural venues

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

The government has announced more than £165 million in repayable finance has been earmarked to support flagship cultural organisations, including the National Theatre, Southbank Centre, the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The organisations receiving loans provide work for over 9,000 people, taking the total number of jobs supported by the Cultural Recovery Fund to more than 75,000. It is not clear from the figures released earlier today how many of these workers are freelance or atypical contract workers, as opposed to employed staff. More than 40% of creative industries workers are freelance.

Several organisations receiving the loans have already started redundancy consultations, including the National Theatre, with plans to cut 400 jobs, Southbank Centre, where front of house and ticketing jobs are going, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The loans have been “tailored” for cultural institutions with an initial repayment holiday of up to four years, low interest rate and up to 20-year repayment terms to ensure they are repayable.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s loan of £19.4m will help the company to consider reopening full-scale productions in Stratford-upon-Avon and London in Spring 2021. It’s also hoped the RSC will continue its national education and partnership activity and ensure the company can revisit previous touring plans.

Plans for allocating the remainder of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund are also being announced today. Funding, which “was held back in previous rounds to allow the Government to respond to the changing public health picture” will be available for organisations who are at imminent risk of collapse before the end of this Financial Year. £300 million will be grants and £100 million loans, supporting organisations’ back to usual operating models from April 2021. Further detail on the rounds will be released in due course and Culture Commons will produce a briefing thereafter.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “Today we’re extending a huge helping hand to the crown jewels of UK culture - so that they can continue to inspire future generations all around the world.

Many organisations receiving the loans have taken to social media this morning to praise the release of the repayable loans. The Historic Royal Palaces tweeted “We have some really good news to share: today we can confirm that our charity has been offered a loan of £40m from the Government’s #CultureRecoveryFund. We’d like to say a huge thank you to @DCMS and @ace_national for this vital lifeline. #HereForCulture”.

Grassroots organisations and freelancers continue to express concern about the DCMS’s inability to advocate for resources beyond “flagship” institutions, arguing that the trickle-down to smaller organisations and workers is not happening.

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